The astronomers at Durham University in Northern England announced they discovered one of the biggest black holes in the Universe.
The “ultramassive black hole” is reportedly so huge, it’s bigger than the majority of galaxies in the Universe – and 30 billion times the size of our Sun.
Dr Nightingale told BBC Radio Newcastle: “Even as an astronomer, I find it hard to comprehend how big this thing is.”
According to the researchers, the big question is how can a black hole of this size can form in just 13 billion years.
Dr Nightingale went on to explain to the BBC that “if you look at the night sky and count up all the stars and planets you can see and put them in a single point, it would be a fraction of a percent the size of this black hole.”
The discovery was made using a new technique called gravitational lensing, which analyzes the pull of the black hole on passing light. It all began in 2004, when Durham University Professor Alastair Edge noticed a giant arc of light in a galaxy survey, and evolved to involve NASA’s Hubble telescope, Germany’s Max Planck Institute and the university’s DiRAC COSMA8 supercomputer.
Their findings were published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society and the new technique could be applied to shed more light on the fascinating black holes. You can read more about it here.