This supermassive black hole, with millions to billions times the mass of our sun, lies at the heart of a galaxy called NGC 1365 and it is spinning almost as fast as Einstein’s theory of gravity will allow, nearly at the speed of light. Image © NASA/JPL-Caltech
This diagram shows how the diameter of the 17-billion-solar-mass giant black hole, in the heart of galaxy NGC 1277, compares with the orbit of Neptune around the Sun. The black hole is eleven times wider than Neptune‘s orbit. Shown here in two dimensions, the “edge” of the black hole is actually a sphere. Image credit: D. Benningfield/K. Gebhardt/StarDate
Astronomers using NASA‘s Swift satellite recently detected a new black hole, by a rise in high-energy X-rays from a source toward the center of our Milky Way galaxy. The outburst, produced by a rare X-ray nova, came from a previously unknown stellar-mass black hole. Image credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center
This illustration compares the size of a neutron star to Manhattan. The crushed core of a star that has exploded as a supernova, a neutron star packs more mass than the sun into a sphere just 10 to 15 miles wide. Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
An international team of astronomers has identified a candidate for the smallest-known black hole using data from NASA’s Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer (RXTE). The evidence comes from a specific type of X-ray pattern, nicknamed a “heartbeat” because of its resemblance to an electrocardiogram. The pattern until now has been recorded in only one other black hole system.