June 4, 2023

A black hole billions of times larger than the sun discovered

The mysteries of deep space have always interested humanity, especially since the moment when great thinkers realized the existence of gravity and heliocentrism.

However, mainly after the space race, humanity began to make more and more efforts to understand the universe that surrounds us.

One of the greatest discoveries of this period was the existence of black holes. As many already know, they are spheres so huge that they can capture even light, so that nothing can escape this singularity.

John Michell theorized for it in 1784, but only with Einstein’s theory of relativity was it possible to understand exactly how the event occurred.

We now know that black holes are formed when a massive star dies. However, this is not the end of its growth.

That’s because black holes can continue to grow for the rest of their lives, either sucking in the matter around them or merging with other black holes. This process ends up forming what is known as a supermassive black hole.

Discover a new supermassive black hole

And it is precisely these practically unimaginable singularities that we will talk about now. Last Wednesday (29), astronomer James Nightingale with his team published A condition in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

In the article, astronomers revealed the discovery of a supermassive black hole, the size of thirty billion suns. According to researchers at Durham University in the UK, this singularity is 2.7 billion light-years from Earth, and was detected thanks to gravitational lensing.

In contrast, gravitational lensing is a very common phenomenon when it comes to black holes, because it distorts even the light around it.

However, gravitational lensing is not unique to them. In fact, this is a phenomenon that affects the way we see objects with a large mass, that is, it distorts the space around them. In this way, we see the image as a kind of “anamorphic lens”, hence the name.

It is precisely because of this phenomenon that Nightingale and his colleagues were able to capture the presence of this new black hole. The evidence came through images from the Hubble satellite and computerized projections.

As a measure of comparison, the black hole at the center of our galaxy, Sagittarius A*, has a mass of four million. Based on this, it is possible to understand a little about the almost implausible dimension these new singularities have.