Supermassive Black Holes at the Edge of Space and Time


Astronomers have known about these objects for decades, but in the depths of cosmic time, it’s hard to understand how they can grow so quickly — or maybe not!

Thanks to the painstaking research conducted by astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope in the 1990s, the consensus is that virtually all large galaxies have at their centers massive black holes that formed over the course of billions of years. Our own galaxy, the Milky Way, has one of these massive beasts, whose mass is about 3 million times that of the Sun. The monster black hole at the center of the giant galaxy NGC 4889 has a mass that’s estimated to be 20 billion times that of the Sun. And this galaxy is right in our cosmic neighborhood, only about 300 million light-years from the Sun!

NGC 4889 (Credit: Sloan Digital Sky Survey)

Let me give you a better perspective on what a black hole looks like. The radius of a simple black hole (nonrotating) is about 2.8 kilometers for every solar mass it contains. This defines the radius of its event horizon. Once inside the event horizon, you are dead meat in a matter of a millisecond. You cannot escape the intense —> Read More Here


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