“Ultramassive black holes — that is, black holes with masses exceeding 10 billion solar masses — are probably not rare; several and even dozens of these colossal black holes may exist.” -Julie Hlavacek-Larrondo

The largest black hole in the Universe was a shocker when it was first discovered. At 40 billion solar masses, it certainly is impressively large. Like other quasars and active galaxies, it has a luminous accretion disk that can be seen from a great distance. Like only a few, one of its two incredibly energetic, polar jets is pointed directly at Earth, creating a blazar, the brightest of all active galaxies.

When an active galaxy has one of its jets pointed directly at Earth, we observe an ultra-luminous phenomenon known as a blazar. These are the brightest objects seen in the entire Universe. Image credit: NASA / JPL.

But what makes this object, known as S5 0014+81, so special is that it got so big and massive so quickly. Its light comes to us from a time when the Universe was only 1.6 billion years old: just 12% of its current age. If this brilliant, massive object were located a mere 280 light years away, or ‘only’ 18 million times the Earth-Sun distance, it would shine as brightly as our life-giving star.

If this quasar were 18 million times as far away as our Sun (280 light years from Earth), it would shine as bright in the sky as our life-giving star does. Image credit: Wikimedia Commons user Alan 2988.

Come learn about the largest ultramassive black hole known in the Universe, what explains its existence, and how there might be an even more massive one out there for Mostly Mute Monday!

Comments

  1. #1 CFT
    July 31, 2017

    Wow, lots of fake (artists imaginations, pure CGI, photo shopped) images there…
    I’m still waiting with bated breath for a PRIME ULTRA MEGA super massive black hole. Shouldn’t take too long at this rate. I think we might need more important sounding adjectives.

  2. #2 Michael Richmond
    August 1, 2017

    The first image on this page has the caption “An ultra-distant quasar showing plenty of evidence for a supermassive black hole at its center. ” The picture is an HST image of the quadruple gravitational lens RX J1131-1231, in which the foreground lens is at redshift z=0.295 and the background quasar at z=0.658. Those redshifts indicate that the objects are very distant from the Sun, certainly, but “ultra-distant” seems a strange term to use; astronomers have catalogued thousands of quasars at redshifts larger than z=1, some up to z=6.

    Moreover, studies of this object focus on its lensing aspects (the time delay between images and the structure of the quasar which can be resolved due to the large magnification), not on the question of “how did it form so quickly after the Big Bang?”

    Did you insert the wrong image into this article, by chance?

  3. #3 Sinisa Lazarek
    August 1, 2017

    @ Michael Richmond

    keen eye 🙂 Did some checking, the first picture is definitely not S5 0014+81 sadly. I couldn’t find any “close up” images of the same. Probably due to it being at z=3.3

    Not sure why ethan would put RX J1131-1231 up and say it’s the one in the article.

  4. #4 Graham dickin
    Doncaster
    August 3, 2017

    When the big bang happened we had hydrogen and helium plus a small amount of others the amazed over time and created an environment to produce the atomic table .What if this is still being produced in the centre of black holes .That in there the atomic number 1000 exists or even 1 million or one billion .The size of the mass is worked out on an average of the atomic tables weight but if this was higher millions higher it’s size to mass ratio falls .So much so that all matter in the universe fits inside a marble.A universe of total emptiness apart from a tiny black hole .Then one day one of the atoms explodes Bang!!An immediate chain reaction occurs and only hydrogen and helium are dispersed into the new universe.

  5. #5 Graham dickin
    Doncaster
    August 3, 2017

    the amazed should read they ammased

  6. #6 mehrdad
    August 4, 2017

    When we look at The space ,we see many repetitions and movements and changings ,repetitions of producing moons,planets,stars,galaxies,blackholes,quasars,and so on, I think one possible theory for our universe is merging of bigger quasars by conditions of movement and incrising The number of merging of bigger qusars by The higher gravities Which They produce ,and at last producing such a big quasar that its own gravity becomes lonely more than The rest remnant matter of our universe and attracts The rest matter faster and faster and at last with an instantly collection of The whole previosly inflated space along with its remnant matter for repettition of a new big bang.

  7. #7 Graham dickin
    August 4, 2017

    But that doesn’t give a reduction in atomic space which was evident at the time of the big bang

  8. #8 Graham dickin
    August 4, 2017

    Only a massive raise in atomic number gives us the compaction needed to hold the 4 percent of the universe we see and the 96 percent that’s hidden

  9. #9 mehrdad
    August 4, 2017

    When The mass along with its gravity goes toward The,, almost ,, infinity ,The reduction of atomic occurs.

  10. #10 Graham dickin
    August 4, 2017

    We don’t need an atomic reduction it needs an atom to hold more hence an increase in atomic number e.g atomic number 100 has 100 neutrons ,100 protons and 100 electrons
    If we had an atomic number of 1 million it would have 1 million of each it’s atomic weight would be 1.5 million times hydrogen
    .So the physical size would be 1.5 millionth .The elements would be such an heavy metal the radio action would be 10000 times more than what we know the heat generated would be 10000 times hotter ,lower value elements would no longer exist inside the reaction .That’s at 1 million never mind the one billion plus it would achieve.

  11. #11 Denier
    August 4, 2017

    @Graham dickin & mehrdad

    Are you the same person, talking to yourself? Regardless, you’re way off base in the formation of elements.

    No elements formed in the Big Bang. The first elements formed in our universe at around 3 minutes after the Big Bang, and the only elements that formed were Hydrogen, Helium, and Lithium. That is it. Nothing heavier existed in the universe.

    All of the heavier elements came about in the cores of stars, which happened later. If you want a better idea on this concept you should Google the term ‘nucleosynthesis’. Here is Wikipedia’s take on it:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nucleosynthesis

  12. #12 Graham dickin
    August 4, 2017

    I took it we both understood the beginning!the cooling and forming the stars building the atomic table I thought a mural respect for the fundamentals was taken for granted

  13. #13 Graham dickin
    August 4, 2017

    That point is stated in my first blog

    • #14 Graham dickin
      August 4, 2017

      And according to the source you quoted dueterium, beryllium, lithium and boron where in the initial compression of interstellar medium .

  14. #15 Graham dickin
    August 4, 2017

    Denier it would be nice for your input but it’s a discussion not an argument a kick around of ideas😁

  15. #16 mehrdad
    August 4, 2017

    In my previous comment ,reduction of atomic occurs,was ,reduction of atomic space occurs .and when The big quasars in their movement merge a dark matter They can produce a bigger quasar Which is The sum of visible and invisible mater(dark matter) so The last biggest quasar will not be just less than 4 percent of The universe but more than 20 percent of The whole universe.

  16. #17 Graham dickin
    August 4, 2017

    I take your point but we need to get to 100 percent.Can I give a little something to ponder.A black hole in the centre of a galaxy becomes so powerful it starts to bend the orbits of everything in the galaxy untill the all start moving inward it is powerful enough to bend the light from all stars in the galaxy inward .To the observer there is nothing there it’s just a dark void but we know something is there gravity waves are behaving strange We know a massive amount of matter is missing but where is it?We would call it dark matter but it isn’t it’s the effect of a massive black hole.

  17. #18 Graham dickin
    August 4, 2017

    Mehrdad we are both saying things very similar.The main difference black holes or quasars being the final outcome.Lets agree to disagree agree and talk about common ground and try to get a sense of what is happening and what will happen and does our theories answer the questions that are most interesting and open for discussion

  18. #19 Graham dickin
    August 4, 2017

    I’d just like to add that it is accepted that large quasars sit nearby even over the larger black holes in mass if not in size and it is the black hole that is the power house of quasars

  19. #20 Graham dickin
    August 4, 2017

    My point that black holes keep making more elements higher and higher up the atomic scale.Is to avoid the questionable need for the compression of atoms.THe compression results in at best the protons absorption of the electrons and the new hybrid neutrons can can escape through most matter.So the black hole gains no mass.I think that the ever increasing atomic numbers that can go to nearly infinity give us the compaction required to get all matter into the marble sized beginnings.But meanwhile the core of the black hole is much smaller in size then is stated.This enables the event horizon to be further away then thought.So eventually well will have beach ball size black holes with the event horizon day one light year away. Even a marble size black hole with the event horizon on the edge of the universe.

  20. #21 mehrdad
    August 5, 2017

    I think that The core of black-holes are made from different layers with different densities too, meanwhile I think that the event horizons act The same as atmosphers for black-holes and both The big bang before inflation,and The space are made from The same material,but big bang before inflation contained the highest compressed and collected form of that material(almost infinite amount per unit) and The highest vacumed space contained The least amount of that material (almost zero amount per unit) and each unit of that material has gravity(tendency to go from environment toward The center of the unit of That material) and when two or more units of that material are near each other their central tedency beomes in common in those two or more units of material so They gather and become denser and smaller in size per units.

  21. #22 Graham dickin
    August 5, 2017

    A point of interest ..The inflation that filled the universe is never explained has it breaks the know law of physics.But what if inflation was a 3D moment that lasted just before the birth of time.The limitation of the speed of light didn’t then exist.When time was then born it slowed the expansion to the speed of sound.

  22. #23 mehrdad
    August 5, 2017

    Suppose that a black-hole is rotating and moving to its right side what happens to The space in The right side of that black-hole if we suppose that for example 2000000 of layers of space pulled toward The black-hole,The nearer layers of space become closer with respect to each other so that They become almost a layer (with The collected form of space in that layer and will substitute The previous outest layers of The even horizon and The previous ones will be pulled toward The inside of The black holes

  23. #24 Graham dickin
    August 5, 2017

    The structure of space layers are space and time entanglements
    The theory of which is still not fully comprehended by the theorists themselves while I can understand the entanglements taking place especially if you like myself saw a time the universe existed in a 3D state and time the 4 the dimension came later.To presume at this time the pulling apart of something we don’t understand how it’s formed is one step too far ahead.

  24. #25 mehrdad
    August 5, 2017

    I think that when a big black-hole (by its gravity) has The ability to collect one trillion lyers of space and those lyers contain a star, The star will be pulled inside The black-hole because that star is a gredient of that one trillion layer of space Which will change only to one lyer by The gravity of inside The black-hole

  25. #26 mehrdad
    August 5, 2017

    I think that the nearest layer of space Which will be the outest layer of The event horizon will be so thin that breaks The shape of photons wich travel in that layer of space

  26. #27 Graham dickin
    August 5, 2017

    Mehrdad what point is that black holes take in stars .This blog is about a black hole of 40 billion solar masses it’s probably absorbed millions of stars..The comment doesn’t deserve an answer I thought the blog was going beyond the obvious.

  27. #28 Graham dickin
    August 5, 2017

    I’m sat in my study and I was briefly looking at the power of the oceans.Imagine that we only had the effects of orbital spin and the moons gravity.We would think that everything is nice and calm a constant more or less.But we add wind power
    earthquakes then the sea all of a sudden totally alters.Apply this to what we know about space,we try to give it order a sense of balance a steady state.It will never fit in to these restraints there are winds out there we don’t understand , earthquakes we can’t comprehend .We make statements like I think!But it’s not our thoughts we utter it’s the thoughts of someone else that we have taken aboard.So the statement I think should be I agree.To apply our thoughts and question even if wrongly is more important.To propose an alternative thought is of far greater importance even if proved false.Then we are not only in agreement we are contributing to the progression of knowledge.

  28. #29 mehrdad
    August 5, 2017

    @Graham dickin
    Maybe it is completely wrong but when I say for example I think that time is constant,it means that with all information that I have gotten from other comments I have reached to this result that caused me to think so,and The same thing about big bang, space ,and so on.but about dimension of time,maybe it is copletely wrong,too,but I think that time is constant and it is the dimension of changing (chanages containing,distant changing,volume changing,speed changing,and so on),and what was happend instantly after big bang was a kind of volume changing and speed changing of dimension of changing.

  29. #30 Graham dickin
    August 5, 2017

    The space time theories are new the layering isn’t a physical thing like you are discribing it’s not like layers of wallpaper.Quantum physics didn’t just think out of the box it builds a new box.Time is not a constant has you say it has limits and is plyable it can be stretched curved compressed.So can space put the 2 together for a set period and you have a layer of time and space it’s not tangeble but it is fathomable by some future answer.

  30. #31 Graham dickin
    August 5, 2017

    Inflation of the universe didn’t happen after the big bang . Inflation occurred everything else followed including time.When time came inflation slowed to the speed of sound.But before time there is no C to square.

  31. #32 Graham dickin
    August 5, 2017

    Consider this the width of the universe is considered to be 93 billion light years.The age is around 13.8 .So take 13.8 and double it.27.6 now had the time of expansion at the speed of light in all directions Another 27.6 that’s a total 55.2 .If it’s all a constant where did the extra 47.8 billion light years come from.Inflation the universe was filled then time started all in an instan

  32. #33 Graham dickin
    August 5, 2017

    Should be 37.8

  33. #34 Graham dickin
    August 5, 2017

    But it’s not a simple maths problem because there are no reliable constants even time.The answer lies in quantum thinking I don’t know it but it’s in there somewhere

  34. #35 Graham dickin
    August 5, 2017

    But remember that is the size of the visible universe a universe that we appear to be in the centre of.We are not in the centre everything is in the centre wherever you are the universe would appear around 93 billion miles across and expanding at twice the speed of light at its extremity.

  35. #36 Ronald holmes
    United States
    September 22, 2017

    I think it’s really nice that we little specks of dust in the universe with inferior minds ( so incredibly inferior to the mind of God) try so hard to explain the unexplainable. It’s really all an exercise in futility. God , who IS eternal and all knowing must get a kick out of our efforts. God made all things, period! That ‘s all I need to know because I know that , being just a human being,I can never know all things. God’s in charge of everything…always has been…always will be. Just enjoy His creation!

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