Astronomers reflect on historic black hole discovery
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Astronomers at the University of Texas recently made an astonishing discovery—a black hole bigger than anyone previously thought possible.
"We have discovered the largest black hole that we have ever seen," Executive Director of the Austin Planetarium Torvald Hessel said.
The discovery comes from NGC 1277, a galaxy 220 million light years away. At the galaxy’s center, astronomer’s spotted something peculiar.
"The way the stars were moving stuck out like a sore thumb,” Dr. Karl Gebhardt, U.T. astronomy professor, said. “They were moving so fast in the middle, compared to how fast they were moving at the edge of the galaxy, that it was telling us very strong, that there was a large mass concentration in the middle."
Dr. Tebhardt and his research team realized it was a black hole 17 billion times the size of our sun.
The black hole's width is eleven times Neptune's orbit.
"This black hole in NGC 1277 is so large though, it doesn't fit in with any of our theories," Dr. Tebhardt said.
Until now, astronomers thought black holes could only make up .1 percent of their galaxy's mass. This black hole, however, makes up a whopping 14 percent.
"It gives us a much better understanding of what is possible in the universe,” Hessel said. “Where did our galaxy come from? Our Milky Way? How does it get formed? What is possible? What is not possible?"
You can learn more about U.T.'s discovery in the journal, Nature.