Vast New Black Holes Shatter Record

They're 10 times the size of our solar system
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 5, 2011 1:15 PM CST
This artist's image provided by the University of Warwick shows a star being distorted by its close passage to a supermassive black hole at the center of a galaxy.   (AP Photo/University of Warwick, Mark A. Garlick)

(Newser) – Ready to have your mind boggled by the awe-inspiring scale of cosmological phenomena? Well boggle away: Astronomers have discovered two black holes bigger than any glimpsed before, with one weighing in as much as 21 billion suns, the New York Times reports. The other clocks in at a mere 9.7 billion suns—a figure that nevertheless dwarfs the previous record of 6.3 billion.

Both black holes lie at the center of galaxies—indeed, scientists now believe that such singularities lie at the heart of all galaxies, with larger galaxies hosting larger black holes. The larger of the two black holes, for instance, is at the center of the brightest galaxy in a cloud of about a thousand galaxies some 336 million light years away. Researchers say studying it could shed light on the role the black holes play in the creation of galaxies. (Read more black hole stories.)

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