Super-Giant Black Hole Baffles Scientists
2012-12-03 0:00

By Jason Palmer | BBCNews

Astronomers have spotted an enormous black hole - the second most massive ever - but it resides in a tiny galaxy.

The galaxy NGC 1277, just a quarter the size of our own Milky Way, hosts a black hole 4,000 times larger than the one at the Milky Way’s centre.

A report in Nature shows it has a mass some 17 billion times that of our Sun.

The surprise finding is hard to reconcile with existing models of black hole growth, which hold that they evolve in tandem with host galaxies.

Getting to grips with just how large black holes are is a tricky business - after all, since they swallow light in their vicinities, they cannot be seen.

Instead, astronomers measure the black holes’ "sphere of influence" - the gravitational effects they have on surrounding gas and stars.


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