(CNN) A supermassive black holeConsidered to be one of the largest ever discovered, it has been discovered by astronomers using a new technique.
The findings, published by the Royal Astronomical Society, show that the black hole is more than 30 billion times more massive than the Sun — something rarely seen by astronomers.
The researchers described this as a “very exciting” discovery that opens up “enormous” possibilities for further detection. Black holes.
A team led by Durham University in the United Kingdom used a technique called gravitational lensing — whereby a nearby galaxy is used as a giant magnifying glass, bending light from a distant object. It was able to closely examine how light is bent by a black hole in a galaxy hundreds of millions of light-years from Earth.
Supercomputer simulations and images captured by the Hubble Space Telescope were used to confirm the size of the black hole.
According to a news release from the Royal Astronomical Society, this is the first black hole discovered using gravitational lensing, as the team simulates light traveling hundreds of thousands of times through the universe.
“At about 30 billion times the mass of our Sun, this black hole is one of the largest ever discovered, and we believe that black holes can theoretically become as massive as ever, so this is a very exciting discovery.” said lead study author James Nightingale, an observational cosmologist at Durham University’s Department of Physics.
“Most of the supermassive black holes we know about are active, where matter pulled in close to the black hole heats up and emits energy in the form of light, X-rays and other radiation,” Nightingale added.
“However, gravitational lensing makes it possible to study passive black holes, which is currently not possible in distant galaxies. This approach may find many more black holes beyond our local universe and reveal how these exotic objects have evolved further through cosmic time.”
The researchers believe the discovery is significant because it “allows astronomers to detect more passive and ultramassive black holes than previously thought” and opens up the exciting possibility of “investigating how they grew so large.”
The story of this particular discovery began in 2004, when fellow Durham University astronomer Alastair Edge, a research fellow, noticed a large gravitational lens while reviewing images from a galaxy survey, news release.
The team has now revisited the discovery and investigated it further with the help of NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and the DiRAC COSMA8 supercomputer.
Ultramassive Black holes The largest objects in the universe and a rare find for astronomers.
Their origin is unclear, some believe they formed from the merger of galaxies a few billion years ago.
Every time a galaxy merges with another, stars are lost and the black hole gains mass – which means that some black holes have an incredibly high mass.