Sometimes I dream that, one day, we’ll be studying what we think is a natural object or event in the universe of incomprehensible scope, only to eventually learn it’s a manufactured item. That didn’t happen today! But it is a nice segue to this interesting cosmic tidbit: astronomers have clocked stars in the nucleus of a small, relatively nearby galaxy and come up with an astonishing discovery: it harbors the largest black-hole in the known universe. And I mean freakishly large!
LA Times — The team measured the speed of the stars close to the galactic heart as they orbited around the black hole — the faster they traveled, the more massive the black hole. Their calculations revealed that the black hole at the center of NGC 1277 held the mass of 17 billion suns. (The Milky Way’s black hole, by comparison, is a mere 4 million solar masses.) And yet this black hole, one of the largest known, dominates a galaxy that is only one-tenth the size and mass of the Milky Way.
Assuming it’s confirmed, how would such a massive black-hole end up at the heart of an itty-bitty galaxy? This one object, which could fit inside our solar system, is as massive as all the stars in an entire medium-sized galaxy. It’s big enough to create a Norma Cluster made up of hundreds or thousands of galaxies. And yet its in a dinky spiral galaxy a few thousand light-years wide. Answer, hard to say since we don’t know a great deal about how the garden-variety super massive black-hole in most galaxies came to be. It’s a mystery, for now.