Hubble Finds the The Biggest Black Hole

This conceptualized drawing of black hole Cygnus x-1 shows the black hole drawing matter from a nearby blue star
This conceptualized drawing of black hole Cygnus x-1 shows the black hole drawing matter from a nearby blue star

The nature of the beast

Astronomy news (November 26, 2013) – Astronomers believe the size of a black hole should be related to the size of the galaxy in which it resides, so the smaller a galaxy, the less massive its black hole should be. The lenticular galaxy NGC 1277 appears to have a black hole near its center with a mass out of proportion to its size, which indicates this theory will have to be looked at again.

Astronomers measured the velocities of stars in orbit around NGC 1277
Astronomers measured the velocities of stars in orbit around NGC 1277

Watch this animation on the possible orbit of the massive black hole in NGC 1277, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pFkBKmAj0G4.

NASA astronomers conducting a study of black holes at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy recently used the Hubble Space Telescope and Hobby-Eberly Telescope in Fort Davis, Texas to measure the velocities of stars in orbit around NGC 1277. The higher the velocity of these stars, the greater the mass of the central object. NGC 1277 is located at a distance of around 250 million light-years, toward the constellation Perseus.

This Hubble image shows lenticular galaxy NGC1277
This Hubble image shows lenticular galaxy NGC1277

Astronomers measured the mass of the object at the center of NGC 1277 to be around 17 billion times the mass of the Sun, which is over four thousand times more massive than the 4 million solar mass black hole at the center of the Milky Way. Until recently, the two most massive central bodies found in any galaxy measured by astronomers reside in galaxies NGC 3842 and NGC 4889. This would make the central object in NGC 1277 the most massive found to date during the current study of black holes by NASA astronomers at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy.

Astronomers measured the central mass in NGC 1277 to be over 4 times as massive as the one in our own Milky Way
Astronomers measured the central mass in NGC 1277 to be over 4 times as massive as the one in our own Milky Way

NASA astronomers estimate the central mass in NGC 1277 has about 14 percent of the total mass of this smaller galaxy, which when compared to the expected 0.1 percent of the mass of the stellar bulge of the galaxy, could mean astronomers will have to rethink current astrophysical theories on galaxy-black hole systems.

What now?

NASA astronomers at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy are currently going over the data obtained during their study of NGC 1277, to see if they can come up with a new theory on how the central mass could be so massive as compared to other galaxy-black hole systems studied.

Current ideas include the possibility the black hole at the center of NGC 1277 could have been ejected from nearby galaxy NGC 1275 and then subsequently captured. We’ll keep you updated as more information and data comes in on theories concerning galaxy-black hole systems during the continuing human journey to the beginning of space and time.

The leader of the team surveying black holes at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy talks about the black hole in NGC 1277, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=12FJVvqn1YE.

Can NASA astronomers detect extraterrestrial moons orbiting distant suns? Read this article to find out https://spaceshipearth1.wordpress.com/2013/12/31/searching-for-extraterrestrial-moons/.

Read about the latest discovery in the search for life beyond Earth https://spaceshipearth1.wordpress.com/2013/12/25/the-search-for-life-beyond-earth-takes-a-turn-at-jupiter/.

Read about the latest images of the solar system sent back by the Cassini spacecraft https://spaceshipearth1.wordpress.com/2013/12/22/cassini-spacecraft-show-views-of-the-solar-system-in-natural-color/.

Ancient Astronomers Looking at Algol for Signs

Algol is called the Demon Star
Algol is called the Demon Star

Of gods in the heavens

“Blink, blink, Demon Star. We know not what you are”

Ancient Astronomy –

Tonight the human journey to the beginning of space and time travels 93 light years to the constellation Perseus, to check out Algol, a bright blue beacon in the sky astronomers in Egypt and China studied extensively for centuries. Called the Demon Star by some stargazers, this bright blue star was believed by ancient Greeks to represent the blinking eye of Gorgon the Medusa, held high in the hands of Perseus the Hero. This is thought to be the case due to periodic changes in the Demon Star that occur every few days. The word Algol comes from the Arabic for al-Ghul – the ghoul.

Algol is thought to be feasting on the matter of another star
Algol is thought to be feasting on the matter of another star

Ancient astronomers in Egypt and China studied Algol

Modern astronomers studying Algol believe the Demon Star has a macabre habit to match its moniker. You see Algol’s a multiple star system composed of one star in the act of consuming the outer layers of the other. According to theory, two such stars in close proximity should be interacting

Modern astronomers have been studying Algol’s periodic blinking every few days, since sometime in the 17th century. In 1783, a young astronomer called John Goodricke sent a letter to the Royal Society of London suggesting this blinking could be due to a darker body passing in front of a star. It wasn’t until 1881 that University of Harvard astronomer Edward Dickering confirmed Algol has more than one sun. In fact, around 1912 a team of astronomers in Helsinki determined Algol has a brilliant blue star and bloated red star orbiting periodically close together, with a third star orbiting the pair at a distance.

John Goodricke suggested the blinking of Algol could be due to another star passing in front of the Demon Star
John Goodricke suggested the blinking of Algol could be due to another star passing in front of the Demon Star

Modern astronomers studied the Demon Star

The periodic blinking of the Demon Star occurs when the red bloated star passes in front of the blue star, merging the pair into a single point of light, which accounts for Algol turning blood red, before turning blue again around 10 hours later.

Algol is blue before turning blood red
Algol turns blood red, before appearing blue again

Click this link to watch a YouTube documentary on Algol. The documentary is a mix of different videos on the dying star, which the site has put into one show. Pretty cool stuff.

Algol: The Last Minutes of a Dying Star

Read about NASA’s Messenger spacecraft and its mission to Mercury

Have you heard about the recent meteorite that exploded near the Ural Mountains

Read about the supernova astronomers are studying looking for a black hole they think was created during the explosion