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Researchers observe black hole 12 billion times more massive than our sun

by Brandon Russell | February 28, 2015February 28, 2015 2:00 pm PDT

black hole

Among the vastness of space, Earth is pretty stinking small. Compare it to our sun, and you get a really astonishing idea of what I’m talking about; it suddenly puts your time here on Earth into perspective. Now take new research from Peking University into consideration, and suddenly you feel like an ant standing next to the Burj Khalifa.

Recently collected data says deep within the early universe lies a gigantic black hole that’s an incredible 12 billion times more massive than our Sun. 12 BILLION, WITH A “B.” Researchers believe the immense mass occurred just after the Big Bang happened—and at a very high rate, which is unusual for black holes. Growth is typically nullified by the energy released by black holes, according to Bram Venemans, an astronomer at the Max Planck Institute.

“This black hole must have grown close to a maximum rate for most of its lifetime without the growth being stopped by energy output,” Venemans said.

Hence the unfathomable size. Stare up into the sky, and imagine staring at that monster’s face.

This is one of the largest black holes ever found (it’s scary to think there are black holes that could be larger), though don’t worry about it somehow swallowing up our little slice of paradise; it’s estimated to be over 12.8 billion light years away, and the light researchers are seeing is from 900 million years following the Big Bang, which scientists believe occurred nearly 14 billion years ago.

How is it even possible to observe such a thing? Researchers utilize tools to analyze the luminosity surrounding the area, which then gives them the data they need to estimate the size. And, wow, it’s large.

“Using spectroscopy we can detect the emission of light surrounding black holes, then we can use the properties of this gas and the distance of this gas to estimate the mass of the black hole,” said Xue-Bing Wu, one of the lead researchers.

It just further highlights how small you and everyone you love really are.

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Brandon Russell

Brandon Russell enjoys writing about technology and entertainment. When he's not watching Back to the Future, you can find him on a hike or watching...

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