From super to ultra: Just how big can black holes get?

Dec 18, 2012
The black hole at the center of this galaxy is part of a survey of 18 of the biggest black holes in the universe. This large elliptical galaxy is in the center of the galaxy cluster PKS 0745-19, which is located about 1.3 billion light years from Earth. X-ray data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory are shown in purple and optical data from the Hubble Space Telescope are in yellow. Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/Stanford/Hlavacek-Larrondo, J. et al; Optical: NASA/STScI; Radio: NSF/NRAO/VLA

(Phys.org)—Some of the biggest black holes in the Universe may actually be even bigger than previously thought, according to a study using data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory.

Astronomers have long known about the class of the largest black holes, which they call "supermassive" black holes. Typically, these black holes, located at the centers of galaxies, have masses ranging between a few million and a few billion times that of our sun.

This new analysis has looked at the brightest galaxies in a sample of 18 , to target the largest black holes. The work suggests that at least ten of the galaxies contain an ultramassive black hole, weighing between 10 and 40 billion times the . Astronomers refer to black holes of this size as "ultramassive" black holes and only know of a few confirmed examples.

"Our results show that there may be many more ultramassive black holes in the universe than previously thought," said study leader Julie Hlavacek-Larrondo of Stanford University and formerly of Cambridge University in the UK.

The researchers estimated the masses of the black holes in the sample by using an established relationship between masses of black holes, and the amount of X-rays and they generate. This relationship, called the fundamental plane of black hole activity, fits the data on black holes with masses ranging from 10 solar masses to a billion .

The black hole masses derived by Hlavacek-Larrondo and her colleagues were about ten times larger than those derived from standard relationships between black hole mass and the properties of their . One of these relationships involves a correlation between the black hole mass and the infrared of the central region, or bulge, of the galaxy.

"These results may mean we don't really understand how the very biggest black holes coexist with their host galaxies," said co-author Andrew Fabian of Cambridge University. "It looks like the behavior of these huge black holes has to differ from that of their less massive cousins in an important way."

All of the potential ultramassive black holes found in this study lie in galaxies at the centers of massive galaxy clusters containing huge amounts of hot gas. Outbursts powered by the central black holes are needed to prevent this hot gas from cooling and forming enormous numbers of stars. To power the outbursts, the black holes must swallow large amounts of mass. Because the largest black holes can swallow the most mass and power the biggest outbursts, ultramassive black holes had already been predicted to exist, to explain some of the most powerful outbursts seen. The extreme environment experienced by these galaxies may explain why the standard relations for estimating black hole masses based on the properties of the host galaxy do not apply.

These results can only be confirmed by making detailed mass estimates of the black holes in this sample, by observing and modeling the motion of stars or gas in the vicinity of the black holes. Such a study has been carried out for the black hole in the center of the galaxy M87, the central galaxy in the Virgo Cluster, the nearest galaxy cluster to earth. The mass of M87's black hole, as estimated from the motion of the stars, is significantly higher than the estimate using infrared data, approximately matching the correction in black hole mass estimated by the authors of this Chandra study.

"Our next step is to measure the mass of these monster black holes in a similar way to M87, and confirm they are ultramassive. I wouldn't be surprised if we end up finding the biggest black holes in the Universe," said Hlavacek-Larrondo. "If our results are confirmed, they will have important ramifications for understanding the formation and evolution of across cosmic time."

In addition to the from Chandra, the new study also uses radio data from the NSF's Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (JVLA) and the Australia Telescope Compact Array (ATCA) and infrared data from the 2 Micron All-Sky Survey (2MASS).

These results were published in the July 2012 issue of The Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

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More information: arxiv.org/abs/1204.5759

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Doug_Huffman
1.5 / 5 (8) Dec 18, 2012
As "big" as the un-caused singularity that caused this all.
Lurker2358
1.2 / 5 (17) Dec 18, 2012
"It looks like the behavior of these huge black holes has to differ from that of their less massive cousins in an important way."


Small minded as usual.

It's the same thing, it just has a different history.

Galactic scale collisions. that is the answer.

The "nothing collides in a galaxy collision" lie you people swallow is what prevents you from understanding SMBH and now these UMBH.

I predict if you look hard enough and in the right place, you'll find 100 billion stellar mass black holes as well, and maybe even 400 billion to trillion stellar mass black holes.

It's the same basic processes just scaled up and under different initial conditions.
cantdrive85
1.4 / 5 (18) Dec 18, 2012
Ultrasuperstupendousinfinity black hole is the only way to go. You're right lurker, there is no limit to the fanciful imaginations of mathematicians describing the monsters that invade dream time.
yash17
1 / 5 (11) Dec 18, 2012
"It looks like the behavior of these huge black holes has to differ from that of their less massive cousins in an important way."

I have the same answer with this:

"It's the same thing, it just has a different history. Galactic scale collisions. that is the answer."
Battman
1.9 / 5 (9) Dec 18, 2012
If the black hole is 40 billion solar masses, that would put its size at around the orbit of Pluto. Mind-blowing, in a really cool way.
cantdrive85
1.2 / 5 (17) Dec 18, 2012
If the black hole is 40 billion solar masses, that would put its size at around the orbit of Pluto. Mind-blowing, in a really cool way.

Yes, that would be quite the BH, if they exist.
To give an idea of the immensity of the heliosphere, all of the stars in the Milky Way could fit inside a sphere encompassed by the orbit of Pluto. The Sun's heliosphere could accommodate the stars from 8 Milky Ways!

http://www.thunde...usion-2/
ValeriaT
1 / 5 (14) Dec 18, 2012
In AWT the black holes are deforms of space-time which can be of arbitrary size. They're real extensions of Universe.
Osiris1
1 / 5 (6) Dec 19, 2012
Just how big does one of these fat ladies get before she decides to go off and dance in her own daughter universe, leaving the old with a whimper and creating the new with a bang. Question is, does she leave a worm hole portal, a huge stable traversable wormhole into the new 'room' in the universe.

Would have to be very violent as the supercalifragilisticexpialadocious black hole tore a hole in the fabric of the universe and started falling thru it, and expanded explosively into the new inflating space on the other side. Spewing its condensed mass into the daughter universe could quickly deflate its blackholeness to the extent that the remnant black hole in this universe would explode with a huge bang on this side as well. Question again is would the huge portal stay open. AND, does OUR universe have a 'navel' too?, to mark where IT was born?
DarkHorse66
2 / 5 (4) Dec 19, 2012
If the black hole is 40 billion solar masses, that would put its size at around the orbit of Pluto. Mind-blowing, in a really cool way.

Somehow, I don't think so. Here are some REAL facts about black holes:
https://astrosoci...le4.html
Best Regards, DH66
DarkHorse66
2.6 / 5 (5) Dec 19, 2012
Bugger this editor. It's a black hole for making posted links disappear on a re-edit! (not the first time!)
Here is a re-post of the two that it cut:
http://hubblesite...ome.html
http://setiathome...prbh.php
http://physics.st...an-water

Best Regards, DH66
yash17
2.2 / 5 (10) Dec 19, 2012
"From strictly scientific perspective, everything about black holes is still just a speculation - nothing less, nothing more. Astronomer still didn't observe these thingies directly..."

Black holes have been firmed to exist in cosmos. It is only they don't emit light, so astronomers can't observe those directly. But astronomers can watch their influence against their surroundings scientifically.
rubberman
2.5 / 5 (8) Dec 19, 2012
The mass of M87's black hole, as estimated from the motion of the stars, is significantly higher than the estimate using infrared data, approximately matching the correction in black hole mass estimated by the authors of this Chandra study.

Better measure them all Chandra.
Lurker2358
1.8 / 5 (10) Dec 19, 2012
DarkHorse:

Ve = c = sqrt(2GM/R)

or

R = 2GM/(c^2)

40 billion suns = M
2GM = 10,613,837,600,000,000,000,000,000,000,000kg

R = 118,094,870,005,840 meters

or

R = 118,094,870,005.84 Kilometers.

Pluto Aphelion = 7,311,000,000 km

So a 40 billion solar mass black hole has Schwarzchild radius 16.15 times greater than the Aphelion of Pluto.

It is inconceivable that anyone could claim such an object, or even an object a few orders of magnitude less massive, could in any wise "miss" stars, nebulas, Oort clouds, and other massive structures between those stars.

Even for the one about half this size mentioned a few weeks ago, I was able to show that it would in fact de-orbit every planet in our solar system if it passed at the mid-point between our Sun and proxima centauri. With this one being more than twice as massive, it would be that much easier.

If you're talking about stellar mass black holes you're right, but this thing has the mass of a small galaxy...
geokstr
1 / 5 (8) Dec 19, 2012
Well, if black holes are so much more massive than originally thought, their gravitational fields would have to be proportionally larger, non? Perhaps enough so to eliminate the need for the existence of "dark matter".
Q-Star
3 / 5 (10) Dec 19, 2012
Well, if black holes are so much more massive than originally thought, their gravitational fields would have to be proportionally larger, non? Perhaps enough so to eliminate the need for the existence of "dark matter".


Not unless there is someway for a black hole to have readily observable structures inside the event horizon. The mechanics shows the dark matter to be in, around, and outside of the observed structures. Not at their center. This phenomena is the most reliable indicator of dark matter.
Widdekind
1 / 5 (5) Dec 19, 2012
Quasars are AGN, powered by SMBH, in the centers of far-off (and ancient) galaxies, observed at high redshift (z<6). Quasar spectra show a "proximity effect", due to all of the hydrogen gas cosmically near to them, having been ionized, by the AGN activity. From that "proximity effect", astronomers can guestimate the AGN's luminosity. And, if, per this article, that luminosity implies the SMBH's mass, then Quasar spectra could be used to probe the mass evolution of galactic BHs, out (and back) to high redshifts.
Tuxford
1.4 / 5 (10) Dec 20, 2012
Yep, I think a 'rethink' is long overdue regarding how these monsters grow so big. Once again, Physorg misses the key points. Long live the Huge Bang Fantasy!

http://www.huffin...665.html
yash17
1.4 / 5 (10) Dec 20, 2012
"Long live the Huge Bang Fantasy!"

Yep. Around the year 1920 to 1933, they confirmed most sky objects redshift. That is quite fine. But, they got a too rush conclusion; it was caused by a mighty Huge Bang.
That was the origin of "The Big Bang theory."

With later expecting of the occurrence dark matter in cosmos, the observation of high redshift sky objects (z > 5) dominantly residing around Ursa Major & Leo constellation, The Big Bang theory must be reconsider.

Not to mention to the high redshift sky objects, not necessarily mean all of those objects recede from us, since even if those objects approaching Milky Way with approaching speed much faster than light (around z>1.4 and above), they won't never blueshift. It's because of belated light effect (light comes later than source).

Nevertheless, as a science fiction, The Big Bang theory is ultimately fascinating.
Battman
1 / 5 (6) Dec 20, 2012
DarkHorse66 I find numerous errors in that school project link you posted, and my estimate of the size of these UMBHs is consistent with other Phys.org articles (though my accuracy is in no doubt, though that wasn't obviously my point).

For an object discovered with only 6.6 billion solar masses, Phys.org reported:

"Astronomer Karl Gebhardt of the University of Texas, Austin, presented the results of the team's research on Wednesday, January 12 [2011], at the 217th meeting of the American Astronomical Society. He said that the black hole's event horizon, which is 20 billion km across, is four times larger than Neptune's orbit and three times larger than Pluto's orbit. In other words, the black hole "could swallow our solar system whole."

http://phys.org/n...html#jCp

As for the density of a black hole being about the same as water (as per your link), are you really prepared to defend by this? Less than a neutron star, really?
VendicarD
2 / 5 (4) Dec 21, 2012
It would appear to me that BH's can get as big as the universe, since we most probably exist inside or on the surface of one.
Battman
2.6 / 5 (10) Dec 21, 2012
Can someone please tell me how the sort of people who would normally gravitate (yes, mild pun there) toward 9/11 truthers and birthers have somehow invaded this site to case doubt on the existence of black holes?

Surely neither the UN nor the those interested in global warming have some conspiratorial interest in the physics of black holes. So what gives with all these conspiracy theories?

Theories of dark matter and energy came about as a result of the pure data. If anyone has better data and a theory to replace black holes, I suggest their posts belong with the flat earth brigade. Sorry is that sounds too intemperate.
cantdrive85
1 / 5 (10) Dec 21, 2012
Can someone please tell me how the sort of people who would normally gravitate (yes, mild pun there) toward 9/11 truthers and birthers have somehow invaded this site to case doubt on the existence of black holes?

Surely neither the UN nor the those interested in global warming have some conspiratorial interest in the physics of black holes. So what gives with all these conspiracy theories?

Theories of dark matter and energy came about as a result of the pure data. If anyone has better data and a theory to replace black holes, I suggest their posts belong with the flat earth brigade. Sorry is that sounds too intemperate.

You're a rube, and exactly the type of person that would have denied the Copernican Model. There is a lot of "data", what is in question is the interpretation of the data. Clearly you advocate a single minded interpretation which supports a fanciful metaphysical ideology. Not scientific.
rubberman
1 / 5 (5) Dec 21, 2012
Battman - Apparently EU theory claims that all forms of BH's are not as we believe they are. Eu theory has some valid components. THis isn't one of them.
Q-Star
3.2 / 5 (13) Dec 21, 2012
Yep. Around the year 1920 to 1933, they confirmed most sky objects redshift. That is quite fine. But, they got a too rush conclusion; it was caused by a mighty Huge Bang.
That was the origin of "The Big Bang theory."

Nevertheless, as a science fiction, The Big Bang theory is ultimately fascinating.


Zephyr, there you are, and looking so much like yourself. Still playing dress up, are you?
Battman
3.2 / 5 (11) Dec 21, 2012
Normally, I would, do what we say here in Australia and let these sorts of comments "go through the the keeper" (a cricket analogy).

But . . . dark matter and energy make up so much of the universe. And I have spent a lot of time pondering alternate theories of gravity. Also, the guy I worked under at the Mt Stromlo observatory hitched his ride to a theory about superclusters, and after eight year work he found it was wrong . . . . so emotionally, I am sympathetic to a lot of theories that might prove him right, even a little bit.

And who doesn't like a new theory of gravity that explains a lot of dark energy, even if it is less clear that it could explain dark matter?

However, the sort of wankers that would call me a rube for believing in the standard model, or pretend that they are Copernicus and I am the Pope, should not be welcome on phys.org, unless they can spin some serious maths to back up their invective.

Otherwise, please send your loony theories to Margaret Wertheim,
cantdrive85
1 / 5 (10) Dec 21, 2012
Here is some "serious maths" to back up my claims, no fictional monsters or dark whatever needed.
http://public.lan...lsen.pdf
http://public.lan...esII.pdf
And inre to the galactic jets and the radiation the monsters are supposedly vomiting;
http://public.lan...PS-I.pdf
Q-Star
3.3 / 5 (12) Dec 21, 2012
Here is some "serious maths" to back up my claims, no fictional monsters or dark whatever needed.


Do you have any new work? You are still thinking that only two people are required to fully prove a body of science. Electricians don't count, they are technical manipulators, not scientists. Oh, pardon, I forgot, scientists don't really understand the science, only the internet gurus do,,,,, carry on.
cantdrive85
1 / 5 (10) Dec 21, 2012
Here is some "serious maths" to back up my claims, no fictional monsters or dark whatever needed.


Do you have any new work? You are still thinking that only two people are required to fully prove a body of science. Electricians don't count, they are technical manipulators, not scientists. Oh, pardon, I forgot, scientists don't really understand the science, only the internet gurus do,,,,, carry on.

It must START somewhere, just as GR started with Boskovic and eventually was elaborated on by Einstein.
GSwift7
2.8 / 5 (9) Dec 24, 2012
wow, 40 billion solar masses?

I'm looking forward to JWST and the Square Kilometer Array settling some of these questions about the early universe.

Sure, you might get up to 40 billion solar masses by combining smaller black holes, but think about how much combination that requires. Good lord, that's a lot of mass. I don't think the math works out favorably for that amount of supermassive black hole combination in just 13.5 billion years, and that's not even taking into consideration that we are observing these things as well established, not newly formed. If they were the result of recent collisions of galaxies, there would be signs of galactic remnants floating around. They wouldn't look like nice neat eliptical galaxies.

I think it looks like these ultra/supermassive black holes had to start forming at the very beginning. That's just too much mass too early for it to be something that developed later.
Shinobiwan Kenobi
2.6 / 5 (10) Dec 26, 2012
However, the sort of wankers that would call me a rube for believing in the standard model, or pretend that they are Copernicus and I am the Pope, should not be welcome on phys.org, unless they can spin some serious maths to back up their invective.
-Battman

Don't mind CD85; after a few more encounters you'll note that it's all the work of: plasma, Birkland Currents, electric suns, Tibetan-Leprechauns, and that we're all apart of the global conspiracy to hold down his meteoric rise as the EU messiah's herald. I'll give out a Gold-Star for the impending butthurt-retort <3 <3 =^-^=

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