Giant black holes

From the AAS meeting, the black hole press conference!

  • Scientists, using the Gemini telescope at Mauna Kea in Hawaii, have measured the mass of the supermassive black hole in the center of the galaxy M87, and found its mass equals 6.6 billion suns, far larger than expected. They also estimate that the event horizon of this gigantic black hole is so large our entire solar system would fit inside it.
  • Other scientists have found that the total mass of M87 is more than 5 trillion suns, about 60 percent higher than earlier investigations estimated. This makes M87 one of the most massive galaxies known. In addition, more than 80 percent of that mass is contained with the galaxy’s dark matter halo.
  • In other research, astronomers have located 16 close binary pairs of supermassive black holes hidden in the nuclei of the galaxies. Scientists have long believed that the merger of smaller orbiting supermassive black holes helps form bigger supermassive black holes we see, but until this discovery, almost no close binary pairs had been located. Of these 16 binaries, all show signs that they are spiraling into towards each other, and will crash together in several millions of years.