Is there any space phenomenon as awesome, fascinating and downright terrifying as a black hole? Well, how about a supermassive one that’s consuming a sun every single day? Researchers at The Australian National University have discovered one of the largest black holes currently known, a monster “about 8000 times” the size of the black hole at the center of the Milky Way.
That one clocks in at roughly 14.6 million kilometres in diameter. Yep, multiply that by 8000. Or don’t, if you want to keep your sanity.
Dr. Christopher Onken, a researcher at the ANU, gave some further insight on this remarkable discovery, saying:
“The black hole’s mass is also about 8,000 times bigger than the black hole in the centre of the Milky Way. If the Milky Way’s black hole wanted to grow that fat, it would have to swallow two thirds of all the stars in our Galaxy.
We’re seeing it at a time when the universe was only 1.2 billion years old, less than 10 per cent of its current age. It’s the biggest black hole that’s been weighed in this early period of the Universe.”
Dr. Onken then went on to elaborate on how the researchers realized what they were dealing with, explaining:
“We knew we were onto a very massive black hole when we realized its fast growth rate. How much black holes can swallow depends on how much mass they already have. So, for this one to be devouring matter at such a high rate, we thought it could become a new record holder. And now we know.
Is this galaxy one of the behemoths of the early Universe, or did the black hole just swallow up an extraordinary amount of its surroundings? We’ll have to keep digging to figure that out.”
There’s a tease for you. Giant remnants of ancient star systems, the science of space has so much romance about it. You think you’ve had big dreams until you start dreaming about the stars. That’s enough of the old romantic in me.
What does this have to do with the also-romantic world of movies? Not much, but the most popular film to feature a black hole of recent years was Christopher Nolan’s sci-fi epic Interstellar, which explored the temporal implications of flying in the orbit of one. But there’ve been others, too. Justice League put a colossal black hole in the wallets of Warner Bros. executives. As did Birds of Prey. And Green Lantern. OK, you get the idea.
Seriously though, drop your favourite black hole movies/TV shows/albums (any Soundgarden fans?) in the comments section. They don’t all have to be as ginormous as the “behemoth” researchers down under have found, though they do tend to be pretty big.