Astronomers measure most massive, most unusual black hole

Nov 28, 2012
Image of lenticular galaxy NGC 1277 taken with Hubble Space Telescope. This small, flattened galaxy contains one of the most massive central black holes ever found. At 17 billion solar masses, the black hole weighs an extraordinary 14 percent of the total galaxy mass. Credit: NASA/ESA/Andrew C. Fabian

Astronomers have used the Hobby-Eberly Telescope at The University of Texas at Austin's McDonald Observatory to measure the mass of what may be the most massive black hole yet—17 billion Suns—in galaxy NGC 1277. The unusual black hole makes up 14 percent of its galaxy's mass, rather than the usual 0.1 percent. This galaxy and several more in the same study could change theories of how black holes and galaxies form and evolve. The work will appear in the journal Nature on Nov. 29.

NGC 1277 lies 220 million light-years away in the . The galaxy is only ten percent the size and mass of our own Milky Way. Despite NGC 1277's diminutive size, the black hole its heart is more than 11 times as wide as Neptune's orbit around the Sun.

"This is a really oddball galaxy," said team member Karl Gebhardt of The University of Texas at Austin. "It's almost all black hole. This could be the first object in a new class of galaxy-black hole systems." Furthermore, the most massive have been seen in giant blobby galaxies called "ellipticals," but this one is seen in a relatively small lens-shaped galaxy (in astronomical jargon, a "lenticular galaxy").

The find comes out of the Massive Galaxy Survey (MGS). The study's endgame is to better understand how black holes and galaxies form and grow together, a process that isn't well understood.

NGC 1277 (center) is embedded in the nearby Perseus galaxy cluster. All the ellipticals and round yellow galaxies in the picture are located in this cluster. NGC 1277 is a relatively compact galaxy compared to the galaxies around it. The Perseus cluster is 250 million light years from us. Credit: David W. Hogg, Michael Blanton, and the SDSS Collaboration

"At the moment there are three completely different mechanisms that all claim to explain the link between black hole mass and ' properties. We do not understand yet which of these theories is best," said Nature lead author Remco van den Bosch, who began this work while holding the W.J. McDonald postdoctoral fellowship at The University of Texas at Austin. He is now at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg, Germany.

The problem is lack of data. Astronomers know the mass of fewer than 100 black holes in galaxies. But measuring black hole masses is difficult and time-consuming. So the team developed the HET Massive to winnow down the number of galaxies that would be interesting to follow up on.

This diagram shows how the diamater of the 17-billion-solar-mass black hole in the heart of galaxy NGC 1277 compares with the orbit of Neptune around the Sun. The black hole is eleven times wider than Neptune's orbit. Shown here in two dimensions, the "edge" of the black hole is actually a sphere. This boundary is called the "event horizon," the point from beyond which, once crossed, neither matter nor light can return. Credit: D. Benningfield/K. Gebhardt/StarDate

"When trying to understand anything, you always look at the extremes: the most massive and the least massive," Gebhardt said. "We chose a very large sample of the most in the nearby universe," to learn more about the relationship between black holes and their host galaxies.

Though still ongoing, the team has studied 700 of their 800 galaxies with HET. "This study is only possible with HET," Gebhardt said. "The telescope works best when the galaxies are spread all across the sky. This is exactly what HET was designed for."

In the current paper, the team zeroes in on the top six most massive galaxies. They found that one of those, NGC 1277, had already been photographed by Hubble Space Telescope. This provided measurements of the galaxy's brightness at different distances from its center. When combined with HET data and various models run via supercomputer, the result was a mass for the black hole of 17 billion Suns (give or take 3 billion).

"The mass of this black hole is much higher than expected," Gebhardt said, "it leads us to think that very massive have a different physical process in how their black holes grow."

Explore further: A colorful gathering of middle-aged stars

More information: R. van den Bosch et al. An over-massive black hole in the compact lenticular galaxy NGC 1277, Nature, November 29, 2012: doi:10.1038/nature11592 (2012)

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Tuxford
1 / 5 (19) Nov 28, 2012
"The mass of this black hole is much higher than expected," Gebhardt said, "it leads us to think that very massive galaxies have a different physical process in how their black holes grow."

"At the moment there are three completely different mechanisms that all claim to explain the link between black hole mass and host galaxies' properties. We do not understand yet which of these theories is best,"

Which are the three mechanisms??? I bet none include that the cores grow from within. Heresy! Yet it can explain the link, especially if the growth accelerates with mass of the core, as in LaViolette's SubQuantum Kinectics. But how can a crank be right? What does that make the rest of us? Heresy!
packrat
2.7 / 5 (7) Nov 28, 2012
I'll admit I'm a layman on the subject but couldn't this simply be the black hole of an original first generation galaxy where the black hole left behind has acquired a new galaxy around it by capturing wandering stars or generating new ones?
eachus
2 / 5 (4) Nov 28, 2012
I'll admit I'm a layman on the subject but couldn't this simply be the black hole of an original first generation galaxy where the black hole left behind has acquired a new galaxy around it by capturing wandering stars or generating new ones?


Or it could be a black hole ejected in a collision between two massive galaxies, that has now accreted enough matter around itself for us to see it.
Shitead
2.1 / 5 (7) Nov 28, 2012
So what is the solid green bar northwest of the center? It looks like an artifact of the computer-development process, but it has stellar objects both in front of it and behind it. How odd!
El_Nose
3.4 / 5 (5) Nov 28, 2012
The issue here is that the black hole has the mass of a normal galaxy all by itself
DavidW
1.1 / 5 (7) Nov 28, 2012
I bet none include that the cores grow from within.


We are just trying to understand. Perhaps none include your personal objective observation. I'm sure it falls in there somewhere, somehow, if it is possible, eventually. So, really the question is about us. The tighter the measurements are with the larger the data sets becomes only valid when we remove as much interference as possible, which always includes our own injected interference into all which we are observing. In the end, the thing we learn about the most is about ourselves. We learn to see our smallest traces on everything we do. Considering the mystery of black holes it's a wonder where this will lead with us seeing ourselves for who we are. Is there really a limit?
Lurker2358
1.7 / 5 (12) Nov 28, 2012
The issue here is that the black hole has the mass of a normal galaxy all by itself


Not that big of a deal. Once it got past a few billion solar masses it would just eat entire Dwarf Galaxies all in one pass, most likely.

Enough dwarf galaxy collisions, or perhaps one Mikly Way/Andromeda scale collision where "somehow" one of the SMBH gets ejected,or maybe a "small" SMBH from a globular cluster gets ejected on a course along one of the spiral bands, and it eats up everything along the way on the way out of the system, then viola, you have a "rogue" SMBH with a few billion stars orbiting it.

Some wild speculation to be sure, but not implausible. Modeling it may be another matter because I can't imagine how one would predict the exact parameters needed to bring that about.
Pressure2
1 / 5 (7) Nov 28, 2012
Quote from article: "This diagram shows how the diamater of the 17-billion-solar-mass black hole in the heart of galaxy NGC 1277 compares with the orbit of Neptune around the Sun. The black hole is eleven times wider than Neptune's orbit. Shown here in two dimensions, the "edge" of the black hole is actually a sphere. This boundary is called the "event horizon," the point from beyond which, once crossed, neither matter nor light can return."

What this???
jonnyboy
2.5 / 5 (11) Nov 28, 2012
So what is the solid green bar northwest of the center? It looks like an artifact of the computer-development process, but it has stellar objects both in front of it and behind it. How odd!


phaser fire.
Infinite Fractal Consciousness
5 / 5 (2) Nov 28, 2012
So what is the solid green bar northwest of the center? It looks like an artifact of the computer-development process, but it has stellar objects both in front of it and behind it. How odd!


Pretty sure it's an object in our asteroid belt. I think I read somewhere that this happens to be very close to our system's plane.
Caliban
5 / 5 (2) Nov 28, 2012
Given it's position within the cluster of surrounding galaxies, it might be possible that it condensed from a really massive, dense cloud of cold hydrogen, that perhaps had its gravitational collapse accelerated by the radiation pressure of the surrounding galaxies, spent a relatively short time as more or less a globular cluster, and then further evolved into this behemoth black hole, whose host galaxy appears to be little more than its own accretion disk...
Caliban
5 / 5 (3) Nov 28, 2012
Quote from article: "This diagram shows how the diamater of the 17-billion-solar-mass black hole in the heart of galaxy NGC 1277 compares with the orbit of Neptune around the Sun. The black hole is eleven times wider than Neptune's orbit. Shown here in two dimensions, the "edge" of the black hole is actually a sphere. This boundary is called the "event horizon," the point from beyond which, once crossed, neither matter nor light can return."

What this???


If I understand your question, the writer means that the black hole is a spherical object, with a diameter 11 times that of the orbit of Neptune, and that the spherical surface of the black hole is more commonly known as its "Event Horizon".
ValeriaT
1.4 / 5 (10) Nov 28, 2012
I bet none include that the cores grow from within. Heresy!
Actually in theory of planetary systems the up to bottom approach is considered heretical too. Most of astronomers consider, that the planets are formed with accretion of meteorites into planetesimals in similar way, like large galaxies and black holes gain their mass. Whereas the large gaseous planets could be formed in quite opposite way: i.e. in similar way like the stars with gradual condensation of matter.

IMO largest galaxies could be really formed with less or more sudden ignition of dark matter, i.e. the mixture of photons and neutrinos at the moment, when the object (dark galaxy) exceeds certain critical mass. Somehow paradoxically, such a object may emerge in free space seemingly spontaneously, being formed with shielding of gravity with nearby massive objects. Which is IMO why the galaxies tend to form the droplets along connection lines of another galaxies, which are forming the fibers of dark matter.
ValeriaT
1.4 / 5 (10) Nov 28, 2012
In steady state cosmology of AWT such a model is quite natural, because the AWT describes the galaxies like giant nested fluctuations of very dense gas, which are dissolving and evaporating into particles of radiation (gamma ray photons and neutrinos), which occasionally condense somewhere else. IMO a certain threshold in size/mass of galaxy exists there: the heavier galaxies are formed with condensation/gravitational collapse of dark energy stars, whereas these lightweight ones are formed mostly of accretion of interstellar gas. Because the massive black holes do swallow the matter the less willingly, the larger they are, an apparent limit in size of black holes formed with both mechanisms exists here. The black holes of medium size (about 500 solar masses) are quite rare in the Universe. Analogously, we know about many giant Jupiter-like planets with lotta gas and many heavy planets with sparse atmosphere - the planets of intermediate type are rare.
ValeriaT
1.4 / 5 (10) Nov 28, 2012
The formation of large galaxies may proceed like the separation of the mixture of oil and water. The event horizon of black hole is forming a natural phase interface there, but it's very fuzzy and sparse in its very beginning (so-called the fuzzball). Such a black hole is merely "white", which means it shines brightly like so-called quasar and it expels huge amount of matter from it with pressure of radiation (which serves as a negative gravity in dense aether model). The central area of galaxy becomes more and more dense and it encloses the matter inside of it into event horizon, which gradually reflects more and more radiation back again with total reflection mechanism. The spherical radiation of black hole becomes constrained into jets, the number of which is gradually decreasing over two into single one. After then the rest of energy of black hole becomes trapped into cold remnant, sitting at the center of most of mature galaxies including the Milky Way.
ValeriaT
1.4 / 5 (9) Nov 28, 2012
In this model only small amount of matter actually falls into black hole with accretion mechanism during formation of galaxy - its rather evaporated and expelled from gradually forming dense artifacts at its center. In young galaxies the boundary between matter and space remains fuzzy and blurred and the gravity is balanced with pressure of radiation and as such it behaves like reversible force in QM way. In accordance to this mechanism the central black holes in old mature galaxies are rather small dense quiet objects - whereas the central black holes in young galaxies are large, but sparse and they're shining wildly. With compare to it the accretion mechanism would lead into huge central black holes, which would be the larger, the older the galaxy is - which is in apparent disagreement with our observations.
YouAreRight
2 / 5 (4) Nov 29, 2012
So what is the solid green bar northwest of the center?


It's a Romulan Warp trail, they obviously thought we were so primitive they didn't need to engage their cloak. Typical arrogant Romulans.
antialias_physorg
4.1 / 5 (9) Nov 29, 2012
Once it got past a few billion solar masses it would just eat entire Dwarf Galaxies all in one pass, most likely.

Probably not. Even at 17 billion solar masses the event horizon is very small compared to galactic scales. Anything beyond that will either go into a slingshot maneouver and be flung away or start orbiting it.

At that mass I get an event horizon radius of just over 670AU. (I.e. the sphere diameter of no return is 'just' 2% of a light year accross. Pretty big, but considering that our nearest neighbor is 4 light years away this thing could plow through a galaxy and not hit much - even considering that stuff will be drawn to it alongthe way.)
jewelblade
1 / 5 (14) Nov 29, 2012
Evolutionist Big Bangers fail again:
Dr Van den Bosch, "This galaxy seems to be very old, so somehow this black hole grew very quickly"

Why didn't Dr. Van den Bosch, the deceived and deceiving astronomer say, "This galaxy seems very old TO US, YET..."? PRIDE. Mainstream Scientologists: stop committing logical fallacies, stop hating God, stop denying the obvious, stop speaking for all and stop being bigots: The only "scientists" aren't non-creationists or atheists or agnostics. Grow up and stop being little jealous babies. You didn't start science, you didn't do the major work of carrying most of the scientific research along, instead you pretend you did.
lbentil
4 / 5 (2) Nov 29, 2012
NGC 1277 is 4 LIGHT DAYS in radius?! Even the Voyager space craft that has been travelling for 30 years now has just made about 17 light hours! WOW
Lurker2358
2.3 / 5 (6) Nov 29, 2012
considering that our nearest neighbor is 4 light years away this thing could plow through a galaxy and not hit much - even considering that stuff will be drawn to it alongthe way.)


The gravitational Acceleration at 4 LY distance is 1/3rd the Sun's gravitational acceleration on the Earth, or actually higher than the Sun's gravitational acceleration on the Asteroid Belt objects....

So if it passed on the midpoint of Alpha Centauri and the Sun, it's gravitational acceleration on the Earth (as well as the Sun and Alpha Centauri,) would be about 20% greater than the Sun's gravitational acceleration on the Earth, even from two light years' distance.

So it would literally rip the Earth and everything else beyond the Earth out of Solar orbit even from 2 light years distance, and it would also still manage to capture and drag along the Sun and the Alpha Centauri and it's companions as well, depending on the exact angle of approach, and this is a "least likely to capture" scenario...
Lurker2358
2.3 / 5 (6) Nov 29, 2012
...I say "least likely to capture" because that's assuming it passes in the mid-point of the two stars along a perpendicular trajectory. If you don't believe me, fine, do the math yourself with a Windows calculator. Takes about 30 seconds or so.

Stuff that's a lot farther out, like gas giants, trans-Neptune objects, and the Oort Cloud would be even easier to capture.

Generally speaking, it will capture or else sling-shot anything within a 2 light years radius, and de-orbit planets from host stars of about 1 to 1.2 Solar Masses within a 2 light years radius.

In fact, it's far larger than what's actually "needed" to de-orbit planets from a 2 light years radius, because it's gravity even at that distance is stronger than the host star. This is not actually a requirement to de-orbit a planet. You really only need about one tenth of one percent of that much gravitational perturbation.
DavidW
1 / 5 (5) Nov 29, 2012
These are lies:

… stop being bigots…


… stop being little jealous babies.


We can't stop being who we are. We are human animals. The truth, which is the word of god, defines us. In your attempt to promote a belief in god among others you have propagated lies about what we are and fostered an environment that attempts to promote placing oneself above the actual truth. I understand you wish to do things out of love for your creator, but your creator loves everyone, as the sun rises and sets on us all equally. None of us can change the past. We are equal because the truth says we are. If anyone is a bigot or is a jealous baby, then we all are. Please do not confuse what we are with what we do. We don't become firefighter. We do fire fighting. The way to god is with the truth, not lies.
DavidW
1 / 5 (5) Nov 29, 2012
Lurker2358, antialias_physorg, ValeriaT and others.

I enjoyed your comments. You would think that aside from the ones that are clearly trolling, that the rest of the people would have decent things to say. It seems most people commenting on these pages have also attempted to define others. We need everyone to be their real self, 100%. We really do.
antialias_physorg
4.2 / 5 (5) Nov 29, 2012
So it would literally rip the Earth and everything else beyond the Earth out of Solar orbit even from 2 light years distance,

Sure. A black hole will seriously distort the orbits of stuff very far away. But it will really only consume the stuff quickly which its accretion disc (which is somewhat larger than the event horizon) comes into contact with (because that will tend to slow stuff down rapidly - which will in turn allow it to get pulled ever closer). Anything else will 'just' get pushed/tugged around but not really 'eaten'.

Black holes do cause stuff to draw closer to them, and by the interaction of that stuff with each other and the resultant transfer of momentum some of it will fall in. But that's a FAR cry from "eating dwarf galaxies in one pass" as you claimed earlier.
intech
not rated yet Nov 30, 2012
I am a simpleton so please excuse me..
Can I assume that it would be impossible for this black hole to have started life just as our black hole in the centre of its then large galaxy .. at some point a large gas cloud could have drifted to close and started the feeding process off .. the Black hole could have then ended up consuming 90% of the galaxy which could explain why the Black hole is so big and why it is now sitting what now looks like a dwarf galaxy...
If this is possible then we need to look with concern at our own galaxy which has a gas cloud that has drifted to close to our black hole which will be consumed and start the feeding process off..
Please understand that I am a layman on this subject.
Graeme
not rated yet Dec 01, 2012
If this black-hole developed through hierarchical mergers of half massed black-holes then the original mass would have been much larger. At each merger it would have lost 5% mass in gravitational radiation, and so to develop from sun massed black-holes it would have taken 33 generations of merger. Overall 80% of the original mass would be lost to gravitational waves, requiring 85 billion solar masses of material to start this process. So as well as this hole there could well be 66 billion solar masses of warped space time out there from this.
Shinobiwan Kenobi
2.3 / 5 (3) Dec 02, 2012
Creationist willful ignorance fails again.

Jewelblade, please open a book other than the bible and attempt to retain the information within it for longer than it normally takes for you to decide the knowledge will send you to hell and you may actully be able to return here and have a meaningful discussion with the members of this forum. I know it sounds like heresy, and I'm sure much more difficult than when you're sitting on a bench having the nice man in robes read you fairy-tales every Sunday, but I'm crossing my fingers for you! I know others here will think I'm wasting my time but I have faith in you! you can do it!
ValeriaT
1 / 5 (6) Dec 02, 2012
If this black-hole developed through hierarchical mergers of half massed black-holes then the original mass would have been much larger.
Yes, and this is the point of the whole problem. Despite its reputation of merciless eaters the black holes aren't very effective in swallowing of matter. They're behaving like very rich spendthrift people and their way of life is very dissipative. A plenty of matter swallowed is just evaporated into space without contributing to black hole mass. These really large black holes were therefore probably formed with condensation (materialization) of neutrinos and photons from large bulky clusters of dark matter with bottom-top mechanism, which I'm explaining here. After all - in similar way, like the large planets inside of solar system.
ValeriaT
1.7 / 5 (6) Dec 02, 2012
Note the analogy of lightweight bodies with poor people. These bodies consume matter very slowly and they're very effective with it. Like if these small planets would know, that every piece of matter counts in merciless competition between planets. But the good and services consumed with giant rich consumers aren't completely wasted anyway. These people often behave like the recyclers: the buy new things and selling them again after few months of usage. In addition, they do create a huge market for service providers, so that whole ecosystem is formed around rich people.

In analogy with it, the neutrinos and gamma rays emanated during spendthrift consummation of matter with central black holes are materializing and they're recycled with stars inside of galaxy. The complex circulation of matter and energy at place and selection which happens around black holes during it creates a conditions for gradual evolution of more complex forms of matter and occasionally intelligent life.
Lurker2358
1 / 5 (3) Dec 02, 2012
But that's a FAR cry from "eating dwarf galaxies in one pass" as you claimed earlier.


It obviously there's only two basic possibilities:

1, Start small and build. i.e. it ate something that big, or else the equivalent of something that big in a lot of little meals.

or

2, Started out this big as a single gigantic cloud of matter that collapsed straight into a galactic mass black hole.

Otherwise, a stray object just meandering around in the middle of nowhere wouldn't get that big.
zahidzakir1
3 / 5 (2) Dec 03, 2012
Astronomers can not observe internal structure of massive objects and can test external matter's behavior only. Nevertheless, it is accepted to declare about BHs having a definite hypothetical internal structure, a picture declared by enthusiasts of that paradigm!
In fact the black hole scenario follows from a combination of Newtonian gravity by special relativity only. General relativity inserts to this simplified picture a new well checked physical phenomenon - the gravitational dilation of proper times leading to fully freezing of the collapsing object with respect to the (cosmological) world time before horizon formation.
I proposed to name the such general relativistically frozen collapsar as "frozar". See details in my research papers and a popular description in the dialogue.
Thus, this object is not a black hole of Newtonian gravity, but a frozar of general relativity.
rubberman
3 / 5 (6) Dec 03, 2012
"I proposed to name the such general relativistically frozen collapsar as "frozar". See details in my research papers and a popular description in the dialogue.
Thus, this object is not a black hole of Newtonian gravity, but a frozar of general relativity."

It is still a BH. But if you wish to call them "frozars" on this forum...that's your call....good luck.
Osiris1
1 / 5 (3) Dec 05, 2012
Tempted to say this SMBH may be what happened to my ex daughter-in-law's hindquarters. However, have a feeling that the matter inside a 'black hole' is finite and not concentrated at a point. In here gravity has assumed relativistic forces, however it has not approached primordial cosmic forces yet as there are still layers of fractalic smallness to resist compression, starting now with the next layer, the preons, components of the quarks. It is probably in here that one would find a preon star hiding within the spherical boundary below which the escape velocity is greater than 'c'.

The evident reality of an 'event horizon' should tell all that all Einstein's theory has a great gaping hole in it...a Black Hole!, for if you can have an 'escape velocity>c, than you can have a V>c!
The universe is a big place, replete with neighbors that visit from time to time on their taxpayers' nickels. Try telling THEM that Einstein says they cannot do what they obviously do!
Have fun, trolls

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