Interestingly, NASA’s Hubble spots a supermassive black hole that is surprisingly silent around 300 million light years away, residing in the Coma Cluster. It’s always fascinating on how little we know of space, in spite of resources and time dedicated to its exploration.
- The supermassive black hole resides in the center of the NGC 4899 galaxy
- The galaxy is around 300 million light years away
- The supermassive black hole has a mass 21 billion times bigger than the sun
- Its mass is also 5,000 greater than the Milky Way’s black hole
NASA’s Hubble telescope has an exceptional ability of looking between 10 to 15 billion light years away. Sometimes, it’s catches an odd phenomenon within the vastness of our universe. This particular one is regarding the NGC 4889 galaxy. It is found in the Coma Cluster, which hosts over one thousand galaxies besides it. However, the interesting part resides within NGC 4889’s supermassive black hole.
Some might not know, but space is actually a loud place. Perhaps there is nothing to disperse the sound waves, as we have air for that role on Earth, but silence is not very common. However, the supermassive black whole at the center of NGC 4889 is unusually quiet. According to the researchers, it was once very powerful, created by the merging of several black holes that essentially swallowed everything around them. However, it’s now resting, peaceful and quiet.
According to Roeland van der Marel, black holes don’t actually suck the space debris. Instead, the material just happens to be in its path “because gas has friction that gets eaten by the black hole”. Once it finishes with everything in its path, it lays dormant until anything else ventures near it. Something like a collision with another black hole could potentially activate it as well. On its peak days though, NGC 4889’s supermassive black hole consumed everything around it. The galaxy actually expelled 1,000 times more plasma jets energy than the Milky Way.
It’s one of the biggest supermassive black holes on record, with an estimated mass of 21 billion times of that of the sun. Somehow though, it has evaded the detection of astronomers and scientists. In fact, the only way they could measure its mass was by studying the velocity of the stars orbiting around it. The supermassive black hole in itself is not visible, so researchers had to get a little creative.
They analyzed the speed of the stars orbiting around it by using the Gemini North Telescope and the Keck II Observatory. The speed of the stars is directly dependent on the mass of the supermassive black hole. By studying one, they could estimate the mass of the other.
And, to put it into perspective, NGC 4889’s black hole has a mass 5,000 times greater than our own galaxy’s black hole.
Image source: extremetech.com