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AstroAlert: Biggest black hole in the local universe discovered

Hi everyone,
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Astronomers have discovered the most massive black hole in the nearby universe and it’s a beast, weighing the equivalent of 40 billion suns. The black hole is located in the heart of a galaxy named Holmberg 15A, which is the largest resident of a city of galaxies known as Abell 85, shown above.
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Black holes come in two varieties. ‘Stellar’ black holes are created when gravity crushes a heavyweight star out of existence during the final moments of its life. Such stars and their resulting black holes typically weigh the equivalent of five or ten suns.
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‘Supermassive’ black holes, on the other hand, weigh the equivalent of millions or billions of suns. Nobody knows for certain how these monster black holes form, but evidence suggests that there’s one at the center of almost every galaxy.
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Our Milky Way, for example, has a supermassive black hole at its center that tilts the scales at about four million suns. For comparison, the newly discovered black hole in Holmberg 15A is 10,000 times heavier.
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This behemoth black hole was discovered by a team of German astronomers who used the Very Large Telescope in Chile to measure the motions of stars in the innermost regions of Holmberg 15A. The speed of the stars revealed the strong gravitational tug of an enormous but invisible object – a supermassive black hole.
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If you’d like to know more, just click on any of the links below:
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and if you’d like to read the full scientific paper, you’ll find it here.
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Best regards,
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Michael
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Dr. Michael West is Lowell Observatory’s Deputy Director for Science. Follow his AstroAlerts to receive breaking news stories from the world of astronomy, odd bits of astronomical lore, and information about upcoming astronomical events. You can reach him at mwest@lowell.edu or follow him on Twitter @curatedcosmos.
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