Astronomers found gargantuan black hole 40 billion times bigger than the Sun — and it’s still not the biggest black hole ever

Astronomers found gargantuan black hole 40 billion times bigger than the Sun — and it’s still not the biggest black hole ever
Image of the Abell 85 cluster of galaxies obtained at the USM Wendelstein observatory Matthias Kluge/USM/MPE
  • A black hole 700 million light-years from Earth has a mass 40 billion times that of our Sun.
  • The ultramassive black hole is located at the heart of Galaxy Holm 15A.
  • Even though this black hole is bigger than most, the biggest black hole in the known universe is a lesser object called TON 618.
Astronomers spotted an ultramassive black hole nearly 700 million light-years from Earth. Weighing in at 40 billion times the size of our Sun, the black hole is the biggest yet in the local universe.

Located in the Galaxy Holm 15A among the Abell 85 cluster, the actual span of the black hole would have a radius that’s 800 times the distance between the Earth and the Sun — which is over 100 billion kilometers.

But the local universe is limited to a radius of about a billion light-years around the planet.

The biggest black hole in the universe is still TON 618 in the Canes Venatici Constellation, 66 billion times the mass of the Sun. It’s also one of the luminous objects in the universe, shining with the might of 140 trillion Suns combined.

But there’s still something special about this black hole


There are two ways to measure the mass of blackholes — direct and indirect. Most observations are indirect where the mass is inferred from correlations between observations.

Direct observations are less common. This is when mass is derived from the dynamics of the stars or gas accelerated by the black hole itself.

And, this is the first time that anyone has attempted a direct observation crossing 700 million light-years.

“There are only a few dozen direct mass measurements of supermassive black holes, and never before has it been attempted at such a distance,” said Jens Thomas, lead author of the paper published in The Astrophysics Journal.

They found that the direct measure yielded a result much bigger than they thought it would be.

“This is several times larger than expected from indirect measurements, such as the stellar mass or the velocity dispersion of the stars” said Roberto Saglia, one of the co-authors of the study.

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