How Big Can a Black Hole Get?


Image: University of Texas
Most of us would have a hard time imagining 50 billion anything, let alone the 50 billion Suns that would equate to the universe’s largest possible black hole. This maximum mass is what astrophysicists at the University of Leicester recently calculated, according to a paper in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, and it indicates the size at which a black hole would obliterate the galactic structure needed to sustain itself.

By Michael Byrne|MOTHERBOARD

That’s pretty damn big, even cosmically speaking. But it’s also plenty feasible—the largest known supermassive black hole is S5 0014+81 at 40 billion solar-masses.

So, at the center of almost any massive galaxy we’ll a great big bulge of gas and dust along with a supermassive black hole. The gas is what feeds the black hole normally, offering it more and more mass and thus a stronger and stronger gravitational pull. This pull in turn helps the galaxy grow and develop structure. It’s a neat symbiosis between light and dark.

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