The Biggest Ever Black Hole Weighs 17 Billion Times More Than The Sun

Every spiral galaxy has a supermassive black hole at its centre, so they're no big deal, right? Wrong: scientists have just discovered the biggest ever black hole, which weighs 17 billion times as much as our sun -- and it throws previous thinking about the evolution of our universe into question.

Discovered using the Hobby-Eberly Telescope at the McDonald Observatory, the NGC 1277 black hole beats all records. Not only does it weigh 17 billion times as much as the sun, it's also eleven times bigger than the diameter of Neptune's orbit.

Let's put that another way: it takes light 17 minutes to travel the diameter of Earth's orbit. In comparison, it takes light 4 days to travel the diameter of this black hole. This thing is off the scale.

So off the scale that it's got scientists scratching their heads. Karl Gebhardt, one of the researchers behind the discovery, explains:

"The mass of this black hole is much higher than expected... it leads us to think that very massive galaxies have a different physical process in how their black holes grow."

It throws some of the existing theory about formation and growth of black holes -- and therefore the fundamental dynamics of the universe -- out of the window. Back to the books, physicists. [McDonald Observatory via Universe Today]

Image: D. Benningfield/K. Gebhardt/StarDate

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    Interesting.....makes me wonder why an omnipotent god would create such a thing. There must have been a very large hole to fill in gods plan. Lol

    And what does this do for Hawking's assertion that they eventually evaporate - technically screwing with the apparent laws of conservation of information. I can't keep up with the current ideas of explaining this phenomena - holographic universe theory is a mess - but this is only going ot make it worse.

      I am interested to know how knowing the science behind these things is beneficial to humans...

        Why? Surely all knowledge has intrinsic value. Why does everything have to be about you?

          LOL! Maybe I just don't get paid enough to know these sort of things!!! btw I did say " beneficial to humans", not "beneficial to me". Unless I am the only human alive and all of "this" is just my imagination... oh crap.

      I doubt size has any bearing on whether or not a black hole evaporates or not, it'd just take longer.

      More convoluted, perhaps. But worse? It can never get worse by obtaining and studying additional information. I know what you meant though, I'm just being difficult!

        haha thanks! Yeah I find this stuff so interesting, not necessarily the science behind it...

    Don't black holes have infinite mass or something?

      Yer, pretty much. A black holes immense weight has crushed matter down to nothing. Therefore it has no size, but an indefinable mass. The only thing we have to measure is the event horizon, which essentially represents the holes weight.

      It's probably closer to say they have an unknowable density. The mass is pretty easy to figure out by looking at the gravitational effect. What we can't know is how compressed that mass is beyond a certain point. As the volume of mass approaches zero, the density approached infinity - that's about the best we can get for now!

    I thought Steadman discovered the worlds largest black hole years ago.

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