A supermassive black hole, the largest type of black hole!

A supermassive black hole, the largest type of black hole! - Culture's Ways

A supermassive black hole (SMBH) is the largest type of black hole, on the order of hundreds of thousands to billions of solar masses (M), and is found in the centre of almost all currently known massive galaxies. In the case of the Milky Way, the SMBH corresponds with the location of Sagittarius A*.


What is a supermassive black hole?

Supermassive black holes have properties that distinguish them from lower-mass classifications. First, the average density of a SMBH (defined as the mass of the black hole divided by the volume within its Schwarzschild radius) can be less than the density of water in the case of some SMBHs. This is because the Schwarzschild radius is directly proportional to mass, while density is inversely proportional to the volume. Since the volume of a spherical object (such as the event horizon of a non-rotating black hole) is directly proportional to the cube of the radius, the minimum density of a black hole is inversely proportional to the square of the mass, and thus higher mass black holes have lower average density.

In addition, the tidal forces in the vicinity of the event horizon are significantly weaker for massive black holes. As with density, the tidal force on a body at the event horizon is inversely proportional to the square of the mass: a person on the surface of the Earth and one at the event horizon of a 10 million M black hole experience about the same tidal force between their head and feet. Unlike with stellar mass black holes, one would not experience significant tidal force until very deep into the black hole.

History of research

Donald Lynden-Bell and Martin Rees hypothesized in 1971 that the center of the Milky Way galaxy would contain a supermassive black hole. Sagittarius A* was discovered and named on February 13 and 15, 1974, by astronomers Bruce Balick and Robert Brown using the baseline interferometer of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory. They discovered a radio source that emits synchrotron radiation; it was found to be dense and immobile because of its gravitation. This was, therefore, the first indication that a supermassive black hole exists in the center of the Milky Way.

Image: By ESO/M. Kornmesser – CC BY 4.0
Text: Wikipedia contributors. “Supermassive black hole.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 31 Jul. 2017. Web. 10 Aug. 2017.

One comment

Leave a Reply