𝖣𝗂ѕсоvеrеԁ а bⅼасk һоⅼе 30 b𝗂ⅼⅼ𝗂оn t𝗂mеѕ tһе mаѕѕ оf tһе Ѕun (video)

The team from Durham University used gravitational lenses to detect supermassive blacks billions of light-years from Earth.

Simulation of a black hole that distorts the space-time field. Photo: ESA/Hubble

Astronomers have discovered one of the largest black holes ever found, about 30 billion times the mass of the Sun, using Albert Einstein’s prediction of gravitational lensing. The massive black hole located 2.7 billion light-years from Earth in the brightest galaxy cluster Abell 1201, is revealed by the curved light dome from the background galaxy being stretched and blurred by its immense gravity.

Monster black holes exist “at the upper end of the range of magnitudes estimated by astronomers”. This could be the first of many similar objects in the universe that the team was able to detect in the night sky thanks to the new technique. Searching for supermassive black holes is just the first step in calculating how massive black holes can grow, according to the paper published March 28 in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Einstein’s general theory of relativity describes how massive objects distort the space-time field. Einstein suggested that gravity is not a force but a result of the curvature of space-time caused by the uneven distribution of mass. This curve determines how energy and matter move. According to one of the most famous predictions of general relativity, light from a distant galaxy is bent by the gravity of the massive object ahead, known as an Einstein ring. Astronomers can use this effect called gravitational lensing to detect faint objects that cannot be observed otherwise.

“Most of the largest black holes we know are in an active state, in which matter drawn near the black hole heats up and releases energy in the form of light, X-rays and other radiation,” said co-author. Researcher James Nightingale, an astrophysicist at Durham University, UK, said. “However, gravitational lensing allows us to study inactive black holes (the type of black holes that do not eat and therefore do not produce light).”

After seeing the arc of light that curves around the dormant black hole, the team used information about how it stretches light to determine the size of the black hole. Combining high-resolution images from the Hubble space telescope and the DiRAC COSMA8 supercomputer, the researchers simulated how massive the black hole would need to be to bend light to that extent. They discovered a black hole 30 billion times the mass of the Sun and about 8,000 times larger than the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way. The largest black hole ever found is TON 618, 66 billion times the mass of the Sun.

Studying giant black holes in this way could help scientists understand how black holes grow to unbelievable sizes as well as their impact on the evolution of the universe, according to Nightingale.

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