© 2016 Peter Free
Citation — to press release
Mathias Jäger, The sleeping giant, Hubble Space Telescope (11 February 2016)
From remarkably voluminous gas gobbling to peaceful coexistence
From Hubble Space Telescope:
Located about 300 million light-years away in the Coma Cluster, the giant elliptical galaxy NGC 4889 . . . is home to a record-breaking supermassive black hole. Twenty-one billion times the mass of the Sun, this black hole has an event horizon — the surface at which even light cannot escape its gravitational grasp — with a diameter of approximately 130 billion kilometres. This is about 15 times the diameter of Neptune’s orbit from the Sun.
By comparison, the supermassive black hole at the centre of our galaxy, the Milky Way, is believed to have a mass about four million times that of the Sun and an event horizon just one fifth the orbit of Mercury.
But the time when NGC 4889’s black hole was swallowing stars and devouring dust is past. Astronomers believe that the gigantic black hole has stopped feeding, and is currently resting after feasting on NGC 4889’s cosmic cuisine. The environment within the galaxy is now so peaceful that stars are forming from its remaining gas and orbiting undisturbed around the black hole.
© 2016 Mathias Jäger, The sleeping giant, Hubble Space Telescope (11 February 2016) (extracts)
The moral? — Some things are really big
And arguably beyond the ability of our imaginations to fully picture in astrophysical action.