Sometimes when I’m walking down the street or driving down the road I can’t help but sit back and think about what’s going on up there. You know. Alllll the way up there. In scary, dark space. And then I feel sorda lucky, to you know, not be getting struck by a giant asteroid or gobbled by a ginormous black hole. Cuz that’d be terrifyingly too real (yet simultaneously awesome?) for my seemingly normal life, and probably not survivable given the extreme circumstances of these crazy dark abysses of doom (not even light can escape!).
I knew scientists had been itching to get a real image of this strange phenomenon (all previous depictions of black holes have been shown through impression art or illustrations), but I don’t think they expected to run into what they are calling the “monster” of all black holes.
This “monster” is the 17 billion sun equivalent (nearly a seventh of its galaxy’s mass), and lies within the galaxy NGC 1277 in the constellation Perseus. Lucky for us, it’s 250 lightyears away (sigh!), and could be the first black hole to redefine and rewrite the classification of black holes altogether.
“You always expect to find one sort [of a phenomenon], but now we have six of them,” van den Bosch, an astronomer at Germany’s Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, told Space.com that, “[w]e didn’t expect them, because we do expect the black holes and the galaxies to influence each other.”
Pretty big black hole we got here, folks. Lucky enough for us, we’re chillin’ here in the Milky Way, safe and sound (for now!).
For more on this story check November 29th’s publication of Nature.