The Impressive Supermassive Black Holes

"The Impressive Supermassive Black Holes"

For the first time, researchers have determined how massive is a black hole.

BACON TRANSCRIPTLet’s take a minute and talk about the impressive supermassive black holes. But first, what is a supermassive black hole? It is a region of spacetime with such a strong gravitational effect that it sucks everything in. This goes for planets, stars or light. Now, for the first time, researchers have determined how massive it really is.

NGC 1332 is a galaxy located 73 million light years away from Earth. At the heart of it lies a supermassive black hole. Findings of the scientists reveal that this black hole is 660 million times larger than the Sun.

Scientists have been able to determine its size with the help of the Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array. ALMA is located in Chile and has more than 60 antennas for space observation. Hubble Space Telescope was the former measurement tool, which based its measurement on the hotter disks of gas. The chaotic aspect of the gas, however, increased the inaccuracy of the measurements.

ALMA offers a new method of determining the mass of supermassive black holes. Dark gas and dust might be invisible to other instruments, but nothing escapes ALMA. It sees the materials around the black holes, and knowing the speed of those objects helps scientists calculate the size of the black holes.

The black hole in galaxy NGC 1332 is being orbited by a huge disc of cold gas. Typically invisible, the emissions of carbon monoxide are visible to ALMA. This way, scientists have been able to calculate that the mass of the supermassive black hole is 660 million times greater than that of the Sun. Observations show that the speed of the cold gases is more than 300 miles per second. With a measurement inaccuracy of only 10 percent, it is the most precise to date.

Scientists have more work ahead of them, as it is believed that the number of black holes is greater. NGC 1332 isn’t the only galaxy to have a black hole. Researchers state that there is one in the center of every galaxy. This goes for the Milky Way too.

Measuring the impressive supermassive black holes is crucial to the better understanding of how they shape the Universe, the way they grow and change it. Altogether, it provides further information on the forces that shape the solar system.