Black hole neighboring galaxy M87 weighs 6.6 solar units, making it the heavyweight champion of black holes.
"This is the biggest black hole in the known universe" - said astronomer Karl Gebhardt of the University of Texas at Austin at the press conference held today at the American Astronomical Society.
This size, and the fact that it is located at a distance of only 50 million light-years away, M87 makes a good candidate for something to make the first-ever live images of the event horizon of a black hole.
To calculate the mass of the black hole, Gebhardt and colleagues used the Gemini North telescope Mauna Kea in Hawaii. They measured the velocity of the stars whizzing around the galaxy’s center.
The closer to the center of this galaxy were observed stars, the faster they move, which is an indicator of the great mass of the center, which accelerates them. Using a supercomputer model, Gebhardt and colleagues calculated the actual mass of a black hole 6.6 billion suns, plus or minus 0.25 billion. For comparison, the mass of the black hole at the center of the Milky Way - 4 million solar units.
The trajectory of stars orbiting the black hole, which suggests that this giant is a product of the merger of two smaller black holes.
Astronomer George Dergovski of the California Institute of Technology, who was not involved in this study, said that, most likely, it took a few hundred of these mergers that there was this giant. At the same press conference Dergovski announced 16 new pairs of black holes, the merger of which will occur in the next few million years.
Large black holes have larger event horizons, where gravity is so strong that even light can not escape beyond. The event horizon of the black hole M87 is about 20 billion kilometers, which is three times the size of Pluto’s orbit.
"This black hole can fully absorb our solar system," - said Gebhardt.
"We do not know if the black holes are actually black holes," - said Gebhardt. "To make sure that the object is a black hole, you must obtain evidence of the event horizon. But this is no. Having a site where you can get it directly image is extremely important."