Biggest Black Holes Ever Are Observed
December 6, 2011 by UPI - United Press International, Inc.
BERKELEY, Calif., Dec. 5 (UPI) — U.S astronomers say they’ve gathered data on the biggest black holes yet discovered in the universe, behemoths 10 times as big as our solar system.
Such giant black holes may have consumed billions of stars and could be the gravitational cornerstones of galaxies from the early years of the universe, they said.
“These are the most massive reliably measured black holes ever,” Nicholas J. McConnell, a graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley, told The New York Times in an e-mail.
One of the newly surveyed black holes, weighing as much as 21 billion times as much as the sun, is in a sprawling cloud of thousands of galaxies about 336 million light-years away, astronomers said.
The other lurks in the center a galaxy that anchors a galactic cluster 331 million light-years away in the constellation of Leo.
Researchers said the discovery could yield clues to the role black holes play in the formation and evolution of galaxies. Observations have shown monster black holes seem to inhabit the centers of all galaxies, and the bigger the galaxy the bigger the black hole, astronomers said.