posted on Jul, 1 2003 @ 06:17 AM
The most distant black hole known to sciene, located 13 billion years from earth, has been, weighed!
Astronomers' analysis of a quasar, a high-energy galaxy with a huge black hole at its centre, has revealed thats its core has a mass three billion
times larger than the Sun, or a quadrillion - a million billion - times bigger than the Earth.
The Black Hole, examined by researches from Britain and Canada, is in a quasar called SDSS J1148+5252, the most remote found by astronomers.
Quasars are exceptionally luminous galaxies, far brighter than normal starlight. Their brilliance is generated as matter is pulled towards a giant
black hole as its heart, releasing vast quanties of gravitational energy in a process known as accretion. Their extreme brightness makes them visiable
at great distances, SDSS J1148+5252 is so far away that light from it being seen now began its journey when the Universe was less than a billion years
old. It is thought now to be 14 billion years old.
Infrared light from the quasar was measured using the UK Infrared Telescope in Hawaii so that scientists could calculate the chemical composition of
matter being sucked towards its black hole.
Particular attention was paid to charged atoms of magnesium known as "Mgll-ons".
By measuring their speed, and comparing that with measurements from close quasars, scientists calculated the mass of black holes.
Chris Willott, of the Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics in Victoria, Canada, who led the research said, we are seeing this quasar as it looked when
its light was emitted 13 billion years ago, back when the Universe was only 6 per cent of its current age.
The mass is equal to 6 times 1039 kilograms - that is, a six followed by 39 zero's. It has not been "weighed" in a strict sence, because weight
depends on the effects of gravity, while mass is constant. The quasar's extreme brightness shows that the black hole at its core is swallowing matter
at the maximum rate possible, a rate known as the Eddington Limit. If it were sucking in matter any more quickly, it would shine more brightly, and
the luminosity would exert pressure that would stop new material from falling in.
Ross McLure, of the Institute for Astronomy in Edinburgh said, This quasar pin-points the first massive structure to have formed in the Universe. It
confirms predictions that such huge black holes do exist so early in the universe.
Courtesy "Ufo Magazine" June 2003