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A huge black hole eats a huger black hole's dinner then explodes with the light of a trillion suns

11 May 2020, 13:00 UTC
A huge black hole eats a huger black hole's dinner then explodes with the light of a trillion suns
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3.5 billion light years from Earth — a significant chunk of the way across the visible Universe — lies a monster. It's called OJ287, and it's an active galaxy, one with a tremendous amount of energy blasting out of its nucleus. It's classified as a blazar, one of the most luminous objects in the Universe, with energy pouring out of it across the electromagnetic spectrum, from radio waves all the way up to high-energy gamma rays.

The power source for this galaxy is a black hole in its center that is abjectly soul-crushing in its proportions: It has a mass of 18.4 billion times the mass of the Sun — that's the mass of a small galaxy, except it's all compressed down into a single object. This not only makes it a supermassive black hole — it's one of the most massive known.

A maelstrom surrounds it, a swirling disk of gas and dust light years across. Near the center, just outside the black hole itself, the material is moving at very nearly the speed of light, and is unimaginably hot. Friction heats it, since material moving farther out from the black hole is revolving around it more slowly, causing ...

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