Black Holes One Hundred Billion Times the Mass of the Sun
This computer-simulated image shows a supermassive black hole in the core of a galaxy. The black area in the middle represents the black hole’s event horizon, where no light can escape the gravity grip of the massive object. The black hole’s strong gravity distorts the space around it like a funhouse mirror. Light from background stars is stretched and smeared as the stars pass the black hole. NASA, ESA and D. Coe, J. Anderson and R. van der Marel (STScI)
If the idea of a black hole a million times the mass of our sun makes you uncomfortable, then we have bad news: Researchers have predicted that black holes could grow even larger than previously thought, reaching masses in the hundreds of billions Times the mass of the sun. These are not just super massive black holes – they are incredibly large black holes.
The largest black holes discovered to date are the monsters that lie at the heart of galaxies and are known as supermassive black holes (SMBHs). These include Sagittarius A *, the black hole in the center of the Milky Way, which is a relatively modest four million solar masses, and the famous black hole in the heart of Messier 87, pictured in 2019 and having a mass of 6.5 million Solar masses.
These SMBHs are up to 60 billion solar masses in size. This is the largest that we currently know. It was previously thought to be roughly the upper limit for the size of a black hole because it is very difficult for them to get larger due to the limitations of the disk of matter around them called the accretion disk.
However, new research challenges this upper limit by suggesting that even larger, astonishingly large black holes (SLABs) may have formed in the early Universe. These “original” SLABs would not form from the collapse of a massive star like most black holes, but would have been born before galaxies began to form. That would allow them a range of sizes up to billions of solar masses.
“We already know that black holes exist in a wide range of masses, with an SMBH of four million solar masses at the center of our own galaxy,” lead author Bernard Carr said in a statement. “Although there is currently no evidence for the existence of SLABs, it is conceivable that they exist and could also be located outside of galaxies in intergalactic space, with interesting observation results. Surprisingly, the idea of SLABs has so far been largely neglected. “
The researchers hope that this theory could advance research into SLABs that might even be related to dark matter. Dark matter may have formed in the early universe. So if you learn about primitive black holes that were also formed at this time, you can solve this puzzle.
The research is published in the Royal Astronomical Society’s Monthly Notices.