NASA: Nearby Black Hole Is Enormous
M87 is bigger than six billion suns
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 13, 2011 2:08 PM CST
Updated Jan 15, 2011 12:35 PM CST
The massive black hole M87.   (NASA)

(Newser) – NASA has taken new measurements of a black hole that’s just one galaxy over—and the results are staggering. The black hole, known as M87, is so big that you could fit roughly 6.6 billion of our suns inside it. Black holes that huge are a rare find, so it’s especially surprising that this one is only 50 million light years away. “It’s almost on top of us, relatively speaking,” one astronomer tells Discovery News. “That’s our back yard effectively.”

NASA already knew there was a black hole there, but believed it might be as small as one billion times the size of the sun. This new exact finding is considered a breakthrough that could help astronomers measure the size of even bigger black holes farther away, and eventually find their exact event horizons, something that’s currently impossible. “Right now, we have no evidence that an object is a black hole,” the astronomer says, but that could change “within a few years.”