Nautilus has this fascinating piece on the most massive object in the universe, a black hole in the heart of the M87 galaxy that is 6.6 billion times the mass of the sun.
But how did these black holes grow so massive? The simple answer: Just as big galaxies grew by colliding and merging (as described in Steve Nadis recent Nautilus piece, The Stories That Galaxies Tell), the largest black holes form when pairs of smaller black holes merge. Trying to grasp the story in greater detail pushes both our theoretical and observational limits: Colliding black holes demand complex computer simulations to understand and sophisticated machines to detect. Studying black hole coalescence may be the best way to understand the effects of absurdly strong gravity, potentially revealing entirely new phenomena.
Black holes seem to have a close connection with their host galaxies, hinting at their shared evolutionary history. The size of a black hole, for example, seems to mirror the size of the central region of its galaxy. Astronomers do not expect to see super-massive black holes?those with masses millions or billions of times greater than the Sun?in tiny galaxies or vice-versa (though at least one seems to violate the rule for unknown reasons).
Additional info can be found on the Wikipedia article on M87.
|TED ED Animation Explaining the Life of an Astronaut|
|"The journey of a photon of light emitted from the surface of the sun."|
|"Rockets are a terrible way of getting to space."|
|"The best is yet ahead for space exploration."|
|If the Earth Was 100 Pixels Wide|
|Unboxing a Factory Sealed IBM Compatible PC from 1988|
|Termite-Inspired Autonomous Robotic Construction Crew|
|The Unknown Reader|
|Reviewing Counterfeit Toys Made in China|
|James Charles' Pop Culture Dollars|
|"This very internationalism that contributed to the apocalyptic disaster that ended the Bronze Age."|
|The Spaceship Propulsion Compendium|
|“There was not only automation but where the suggestion that humans had any control [...] was absent too.”|
|"Most of what kids currently learn at school will probably be irrelevant by the time they are 40."|
|"Fossil fuel executives want to get a piece of the clean-energy business."|
|“The release of methane from hydrate may be apocalyptic.”|