New Data Shows Black Holes Are Bigger Than Expected

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New Data Shows Black Holes Are Bigger Than Expected

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With masses upwards of 10 billion times that of the sun, ultramassive black holes are more common than originally thought.

Using data from several observatories around the world, scientists have concluded that the expected masses of various black holes in our cosmic backyard were significantly understated, suggesting that some of those formerly classified only as supermassive might actually be ultramassive. "Ultramassive black holes - that is, black holes with masses exceeding 10 billion solar masses - are probably not rare; several and even dozens of these colossal black holes may exist," said Julie Hlavacek-Larrondo, the study's lead author. We currently expect supermassive black holes in the center of virtually every large galaxy. What we didn't expect, however, was the existence of so many ultramassive black holes.

Looking initially at data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, researchers discovered that, in a sample of 18 galaxy clusters, at least 10 of the black holes are between 10 and 40 billion solar masses. "Some of our black hole mass predictions are just lower limits, so they could be higher," Hlavacek-Larrondo said, going on to suggest that we might one day find a black hole with 100 billion times the mass of the sun, "which really is ultra-big."

Having located the black holes for the study, scientists estimated their masses by analyzing X-rays and radio waves generated by consuming their surrounding gas, dust, and stars. Using the X-ray data from Chandra, in addition to radio data from the Very Large Array in New Mexico and the Australia Telescope Compact Array, in addition to infrared data from the 2-Micron All-Sky Survey, researchers used the relationship between the amount of radiation they exude and the mass of the black hole to determine their sizes, though they discovered that these black holes are roughly 10 times the size one would expect given the size of their respective host galaxies.

In short, scientists have no idea how these black holes came to be so large, given that their diet is largely restricted by the size of their host galaxy, current models don't do well predicting black holes of these masses. While there were some predictions of ultramassive black holes prior to the study, the fact that there are so many of them is still somewhat astonishing. Once the findings have been verified, they will have "important ramifications for understanding the formation and evolution of black holes across cosmic time."

Source: Space.com
Image: NASA

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I wonder what the range is of the massive black hole's gravitational influence. 40 billion solar star mass is pretty freaking big.

I've seen bigger.

I suggest a name for the 100 billion star mass black hole should be a Gabe.

-Dragmire-:
I wonder what the range is of the massive black hole's gravitational influence. 40 billion solar star mass is pretty freaking big.

Well, actual range is infinite, much like any object with mass. The event horizon (where the escape velocity is larger than the speed of light) can be found using the Schwarzschild radius formula, radius = 2*gravitation constant*mass / speed speed of light squared, which gives a radius of 1.18x10^14 metres, or 117 billion km, or 780 times the size of our sun.

As for range where stuff can orbit? The range which the black hole would exert the same force on an object (mass wouldn't matter if the object is the same mass in both cases) as the sun does to Earth, ~150 million km, would be. Using Newton's rules of gravity (F=two times(grav constant * mass of larger object * mass of smaller object) / radius squared), because I don't particularly want to do Einstein's at the moment, would be around 30 trillion kilometres. Which is about 200,000 times larger. Though I was only using 2 significant figures throughout, but it'd be the right order of magnitude I'd wager. That's also just equating the force exerted on the earth by the sun with how far the black hole must be from an object to get the same force; the sun has objects way farther orbiting it. You can also think of it as, at 30 trillion km's away from the singularity, a sun sized object must be 200,000 times closer than the singularity to overpower it.

Or, the range is pretty freaking huge.
I'm a physics student, this is what I do, stop judging me

So, they used to think they were smaller, but now they are way bigger? I'm now worried that they are eating everything and growing...

The universe is a scary, scary place...

What if:

Richardplex:

-Dragmire-:
I wonder what the range is of the massive black hole's gravitational influence. 40 billion solar star mass is pretty freaking big.

Well, actual range is infinite, much like any object with mass. The event horizon (where the escape velocity is larger than the speed of light) can be found using the Schwarzschild radius formula, radius = 2*gravitation constant*mass / speed speed of light squared, which gives a radius of 1.18x10^14 metres, or 117 billion km, or 780 times the size of our sun.

As for range where stuff can orbit? The range which the black hole would exert the same force on an object (mass wouldn't matter if the object is the same mass in both cases) as the sun does to Earth, ~150 million km, would be. Using Newton's rules of gravity (F=(2*grav constant * mass of larger object * mass of smaller object) / radius squared), because I don't particularly want to do Einstein's at the moment, would be around 30 trillion kilometres. Which is about 200,000 times larger. Though I was only using 2 significant figures throughout, but it'd be the right order of magnitude I'd wager. That's also just equating the force exerted on the earth by the sun with how far the black hole must be from an object to get the same force; the sun has objects way farther orbiting it. You can also think of it as, at 30 trillion km's away from the singularity, a sun sized object must be 200,000 times closer than the singularity to overpower it.

Or, the range is pretty freaking huge.
I'm a physics student, this is what I do, stop judging me

Fellow Physicist here - Astrophysicist actually, and we only ever work to order of magnitude - your maths checks out :)
(Although there's an extra factor of 2 in your formula - but it cancels anyway.) I just got Rblackhole orbit = 200,000Rearth:sun too.

The question on my mind is what's feeding it, and I do wonder how Dark Matter plays into this. After all, dark matter is the (currently) unsolved mystery of galactic structure. I'd guess that we're only seeing the visible matter that's feeding the black hole, or we've underestimated the amount of Dark Matter being fed in... Not my field, unfortunately, so I can't speculate beyond that.

Extra-dimensional matter. That accounts for the size.

Or perhaps they are universal remnants still attached to their former realities via the singularity.

now Johhny don't eat that planet, or you won't fit in you local cluster any more. see it can even apply to black holes yay for science.

Alandoril:
Extra-dimensional matter. That accounts for the size.

Or perhaps they are universal remnants still attached to their former realities via the singularity.

This would lead to the probability that these black holes aren't just pulling in material immediately around them, but also from different points in time. Given the right location where different galaxies might intersect at different times, this could easily account for the mass requirement of an ultramassive black hole.

Remus:

Alandoril:
Extra-dimensional matter. That accounts for the size.

Or perhaps they are universal remnants still attached to their former realities via the singularity.

This would lead to the probability that these black holes aren't just pulling in material immediately around them, but also from different points in time. Given the right location where different galaxies might intersect at different times, this could easily account for the mass requirement of an ultramassive black hole.

Indeed, given that they are probably not bound by the "laws" of physics as we are currently able to comprehend them. I know it's far-fetched but my mind is groggy with ale and awash with possibilities :)

The_Darkness:

Fellow Physicist - Astrophysicist actually, and we only ever work to order of magnitude - your maths checks out :) (although there's an extra factor of 2 in your formula - but it cancels anyway.) I just got Rblackhole orbit = 200,000Rearth:sun

The question on my mind is what's feeding it, and I do wonder how dark matter plays into this. After all, dark matter is the (currently) unsolved mystery of galactic structure. If we're only seeing the visible matter that's feeding the black hole, or if we've underestimated the amount of Dark Matter being fed in... Not my field, unfortunately, so I can't speculate beyond that.

Theoretical physicist here, so I'm used to completely different scales. And good job brain, combining the gravitational energy and force formula despite the fact you were reading the force formula off wikipedia, fantastic effort there. Going to explain points in case some lurker hasn't realised that reading a conversation between physicists is a foolish idea.

I'd also assume dark matter, and dark energy, with the latter being so present (23% and 73% of the mass of the universe respectively) that it can't be ignored (and the fact it travels means momentum, thus can't escape the event horizon, since gravity affects momentum, not mass), but so non-understood we can't use it either. I can't even comprehend singularities, so I wouldn't know - their creation blatantly defy the exclusion principle (two or more identical fermions can not exist in the same quantum state at the same time, black holes are when super-massive stars collapse to a single 0 dimensional point - thus an obnoxious number of particles exist at the same point). Such that this

Remus:

Alandoril:
Extra-dimensional matter. That accounts for the size.

Or perhaps they are universal remnants still attached to their former realities via the singularity.

This would lead to the probability that these black holes aren't just pulling in material immediately around them, but also from different points in time. Given the right location where different galaxies might intersect at different times, this could easily account for the mass requirement of an ultramassive black hole.

Is looking reasonable at this point. God, not sure if we're living in the future or we're really desperate to even count this as a possibility. I'd lean more towards matter from other dimensions, but since singularities care not for your ideas of "time" (past the event horizon, an eternity could pass outside and no time would pass inside the event horizon) and we have virtual particles borrowing energy from the future, still viable. Though we theoretically should see some effect of this - galaxies having lost mass in a non uniform way without any discernible reason.

Richardplex:

-Dragmire-:
I wonder what the range is of the massive black hole's gravitational influence. 40 billion solar star mass is pretty freaking big.

Well, actual range is infinite, much like any object with mass. The event horizon (where the escape velocity is larger than the speed of light) can be found using the Schwarzschild radius formula, radius = 2*gravitation constant*mass / speed speed of light squared, which gives a radius of 1.18x10^14 metres, or 117 billion km, or 780 times the size of our sun.

As for range where stuff can orbit? The range which the black hole would exert the same force on an object (mass wouldn't matter if the object is the same mass in both cases) as the sun does to Earth, ~150 million km, would be. Using Newton's rules of gravity (F=(2*grav constant * mass of larger object * mass of smaller object) / radius squared), because I don't particularly want to do Einstein's at the moment, would be around 30 trillion kilometres. Which is about 200,000 times larger. Though I was only using 2 significant figures throughout, but it'd be the right order of magnitude I'd wager. That's also just equating the force exerted on the earth by the sun with how far the black hole must be from an object to get the same force; the sun has objects way farther orbiting it. You can also think of it as, at 30 trillion km's away from the singularity, a sun sized object must be 200,000 times closer than the singularity to overpower it.

Or, the range is pretty freaking huge.
I'm a physics student, this is what I do, stop judging me

No judging, only envy. I think I bombed Math and Physics 1...

Richardplex:

The_Darkness:

Fellow Physicist - Astrophysicist actually, and we only ever work to order of magnitude - your maths checks out :) (although there's an extra factor of 2 in your formula - but it cancels anyway.) I just got Rblackhole orbit = 200,000Rearth:sun

The question on my mind is what's feeding it, and I do wonder how dark matter plays into this. After all, dark matter is the (currently) unsolved mystery of galactic structure. If we're only seeing the visible matter that's feeding the black hole, or if we've underestimated the amount of Dark Matter being fed in... Not my field, unfortunately, so I can't speculate beyond that.

Theoretical physicist here, so I'm used to completely different scales. And good job brain, combining the gravitational energy and force formula despite the fact you were reading the force formula off wikipedia, fantastic effort there. Going to explain points in case some lurker hasn't realised that reading a conversation between physicists is a foolish idea.

I'd also assume dark matter, and dark energy, with the latter being so present (23% and 73% of the mass of the universe respectively) that it can't be ignored (and the fact it travels means momentum, thus can't escape the event horizon, since gravity affects momentum, not mass), but so non-understood we can't use it either. I can't even comprehend singularities, so I wouldn't know - their creation blatantly defy the exclusion principle (two or more identical fermions can not exist in the same quantum state at the same time, black holes are when super-massive stars collapse to a single 0 dimensional point - thus an obnoxious number of particles exist at the same point). Such that this

Remus:

Alandoril:
Extra-dimensional matter. That accounts for the size.

Or perhaps they are universal remnants still attached to their former realities via the singularity.

This would lead to the probability that these black holes aren't just pulling in material immediately around them, but also from different points in time. Given the right location where different galaxies might intersect at different times, this could easily account for the mass requirement of an ultramassive black hole.

Is looking reasonable at this point. God, not sure if we're living in the future or we're really desperate to even count this as a possibility. I'd lean more towards matter from other dimensions, but since singularities care not for your ideas of "time" (past the event horizon, an eternity could pass outside and no time would pass inside the event horizon) and we have virtual particles borrowing energy from the future, still viable. Though we theoretically should see some effect of this - galaxies having lost mass in a non uniform way without any discernible reason.

After reading all that, it just makes me think that black holes are when the Universe decides to go 'You know what? I feel like dividing by 0 today.' Which makes me chuckle happily.

LordOfInsanity:
After reading all that, it just makes me think that black holes are when the Universe decides to go 'You know what? I feel like dividing by 0 today.' Which makes me chuckle happily.

Mathematically, that's a pretty apt description.

cjbos81:
I've seen bigger.

*insert yo mama joke*

"Bigger than we expected" is an accurate description for the majority of the major discoveries in astronomy lately.

I'm pretty sure I haven explanation as to how those black holes got so damn huge - dark matter / dark energy.

No really, what else can it be? An unprecedented amount of mass has come out of nowhere. Must be dark matter/energy!

Of course, that "answer" only raises like a billion other questions :P

albino boo:
I suggest a name for the 100 billion star mass black hole should be a Gabe.

Will it have a monopoly and billions of fanboys as well?

Aaron Sylvester:
I'm pretty sure I haven explanation as to how those black holes got so damn huge - dark matter / dark energy.

No really, what else can it be? An unprecedented amount of mass has come out of nowhere. Must be dark matter/energy!

Of course, that "answer" only raises like a billion other questions :P

It's actually simpler than that. All those black holes created by the Doctor, SG-1, and the various other sci-fi crews add up.

Your mom's black hole is getting bigger.............Zing!!!

Well one must consider that gravity is not an attractive force, it is a force that bends dimensions themselves, and not just those we can observe or theorize but everything that might exist beyond our knowledge.
Mix that with the unimaginable forces that would occur within a 10-100 billion solar mass collapse... we could be looking at anything from extra-dimensional rifts straight down to monsters from the id.

Let's see Muse make a song about THAT.

Not one Supermassive Black Hole reference yet?!

Okay then...

Glaciers melting in the dead of night
And the superstars sucked into the supermassive
Supermassive Black HOOOOOOOOLE!

What happens if two black holes collide?

told you these holes are bigger and eat more than you think. you argued, but you were wrong, again. galaxy is more scary than you think.

Jynthor:
The universe is a scary, scary place...

What if:

Then considering their general lack of movement, they're not doing the best job they could be doing to satisfy their hunger.

OT: Just another friendly reminder of simply how small you are in the universe. Carry on gents, and hold this message to heart.

Jynthor:
The universe is a scary, scary place...

What if:

So Azathoth does have extended relatives... That's not exactly what I'd call a comforting notion.

Alandoril:
Extra-dimensional matter. That accounts for the size.

Or perhaps they are universal remnants still attached to their former realities via the singularity.

What do you mean "remnants"?

Looking at the data, the chance that our entire universe is one black hole... is actually pretty darn high.

In short, scientists have no idea how these black holes came to be so large, given that their diet is largely restricted by the size of their host galaxy, current models don't do well predicting black holes of these masses. While there were some predictions of ultramassive black holes prior to the study, the fact that there are so many of them is still somewhat astonishing. Once the findings have been verified, they will have "important ramifications for understanding the formation and evolution of black holes across cosmic time."

o_O

I think I'm gonna curl up in a ball and alternately recite the Bene Gesserit mantra against fear and Douglas Adams' paragraph about the size of space.

Richardplex:
I'm a physics student, this is what I do, stop judging me

I'm just glad someone beat me to that equation (and I wouldn't have thought of figuring out the gravitational attraction). I think I programmed the Schwarzchild radius formula into a graphing calculator in high school once, but once I hit university, I inexplicably shifted from physical sciences to social sciences.

NeutralDrow:

In short, scientists have no idea how these black holes came to be so large, given that their diet is largely restricted by the size of their host galaxy, current models don't do well predicting black holes of these masses. While there were some predictions of ultramassive black holes prior to the study, the fact that there are so many of them is still somewhat astonishing. Once the findings have been verified, they will have "important ramifications for understanding the formation and evolution of black holes across cosmic time."

o_O

I think I'm gonna curl up in a ball and alternately recite the Bene Gesserit mantra against fear and Douglas Adams' paragraph about the size of space.

Richardplex:
I'm a physics student, this is what I do, stop judging me

I'm just glad someone beat me to that equation (and I wouldn't have thought of figuring out the gravitational attraction). I think I programmed the Schwarzchild radius formula into a graphing calculator in high school once, but once I hit university, I inexplicably shifted from physical sciences to social sciences.

My graphical calculator has the original wolfenstein, far more practical use for it.

And it's fine, it's not like one could sneak up on us and rip us out of orbit without anyone noticing *checks calculations* oh no wait, that's exactly what could happen.
.
*curls into ball*

ExtraDebit:
What happens if two black holes collide?

Um, you'd get 2 singularities that rotate around each other in a disc, which causes it to become a kerr black hole (a black hole with angular momentum - singularities are points, and thus can't rotate, but two singularities could have a centre of mass, while the whole thing is rotating), and then time travel becomes a thing. If the angular momentum is high enough, then the event horizon disappears, giving you naked singularities, and then everyone who knows to do general relativity calculations break down into tears because oh god how is that even possible. And then be happy because they can directly observe a singularity (which we can't currently do because event horizon prevents light with information escaping from around the singularity. And then break down again because oh god how are singularities even possible. Neil DeGrasse Tyson explains it a bit:

I like how everyone always wants to know what would happen if two black holes collided (including me of course)

Zachary Amaranth:

albino boo:
I suggest a name for the 100 billion star mass black hole should be a Gabe.

Will it have a monopoly and billions of fanboys as well?

Undoubtedly, the fanboys will be sucked in with promises of a new half life game until they cross the event horizon ane enter valve time.

I am fascinated with Physics and Science in general. (Mostly because I'm a "Medium-Core" Star Trek geek.) I've always considered it to be reverse-engineering the Mind of God. It turns out God is pretty messed up. The implications of interactions with Time, Space, Gravity, and Relativity when dealing with black holes is truly mind boggling.

As is the sense of scale involved. ONE HUNDRED BILLION SOLAR MASSES!! Holy F***ing S*** Batman! O.o

My brain can't even begin to comprehend things that massive. Hell, I have trouble conceptualizing one PLANETARY mass.

Once you go black...

This is an amazing discovery, so what does this discovery actually mean? Jack shit, because until interstellar space travel is acquired, all these billions of dollars is wasted on just looking out to space. They should invest that money in FTL research or human advancements, so forgive my negativity but I'd rather our tax dollars be put to use more effectively in advancements instead of speculations. We are way to far from this research actually meaning something, let's spend this cash on better space advances in order to get to that point.

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