The central galaxy of the Abell 85 cluster, known as Holm15A (visible at centre), features an extended core harbouring a black hole with 40 billion times the mass of the Sun. Image: Matthias Kluge/USM/MPE
A monster black hole with 40 billion times the mass of the Sun – a new record – has been identified at the heart of a heavy-weight galaxy anchoring the Abell 85 galactic cluster some 700 million light years from Earth.
“There are only a few dozen direct mass measurements of supermassive black holes, and never before has it been attempted at such a distance,” said Jens Thomas, a researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics and the University Observatory Munich. “But we already had some idea of the size of the black bole in this particular galaxy, so we tried it.”
The black hole in question resides in the central galaxy of Abell 85, a cluster made up of more than 500 discernible galaxies. The one hosting the ultra-massive black hole has a visible mass of about two trillion suns and a diffuse central region almost the size of the Large Magellanic Cloud – a clue that an enormous black hole might be ...