This black hole is very special, both for being one of the largest ever detected and for other reasons, such as its inactivity or the method by which it was found.
A team of scientists from the University of Durham and the Max Planck Institute have detected a very peculiar black hole for multiple reasons. To begin with, because it is one of the largest ever found. So much so that it is considered to be at the upper limit of what they can measure. On the other hand, because it is inactive. Actives are much easier to detect, as they are constantly releasing radiation that can be measured with telescopes. And finally, it’s exciting because it’s been detected using gravitational lensing. This is a method that is presented as a great tool to find more black holes like this in the future. Now we have it even clearer.
Every dormant black hole found is a sign of great advances in science. This, moreover, has approximately the mass of 30 trillion suns. It’s really big, so it can give a lot of interesting information to science. And this is only the beginning; Well, as the authors of the research have explained, it is expected that future telescopes will be able to find even more black holes like this one. Today we have very advanced telescopes; but, in the next few years, they will be outdated with everything that is to come.
Gravitational lenses to discover a huge black hole A gravitational lens forms when light from bright distant objects is bent as it passes through a very massive object located between the emitter and receiver of the light. In this case, the emission came from a distant galaxy and the receiver would be the Hubble telescope. Despite the fact that it is said that he has been replaced by James Webb, he is still active. They even work together sometimes. In addition, data from past years can be used to obtain findings like this.
And it is that, when reviewing the data from the telescope, the authors of this study found a giant arc caused by a galaxy in the foreground. That is, a galaxy closer to the telescope was generating a gravitational lens with respect to the light of another, more distant one. And that great arc had to correspond to the presence in the middle of that galaxy of a great black hole. It is normal for galaxies to have a black hole at their center. But this one turned out to be huge. Thanks to computational models executed with the DiRAC supercomputer at Durham University, they were able to measure it and conclude that it is equivalent to 30 trillion times the mass of the Sun.
And now that? Getting here has been a long process. In fact, the data was detected in 2004, so it has taken almost 20 years to confirm and publish it. However, the study authors have not been weary and hope this is just a start. As they have explained in a statement, this could be the first step for “a deeper exploration of the mysteries of black holes.” Also, thanks to future large-scale telescopes, astronomers could “study even more distant black holes to learn more about their size and scale.”
Although this is among the largest, there may still be a black hole out there bigger than any that has ever been seen before. There are probably many. And science has increasingly better tools to find them.