At the center of the Milky Way lies the largest object we can be sure exists: a supermassive black hole (SMBH), four million times more massive than the sun.
Physicists believe that these huge features could reach even larger sizes if they ate a large enough galaxy. The highest estimates are somewhere in the order of 10 billion times more massive than our sun, but things start to rise a little later. At least that is the common wisdom.
A new study by a trio of European researchers recently revealed a larger theory involving the formation of black holes. They say that under the right conditions, black holes can become so massive that the only way to describe their size would be incredibly big.
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Called SLABs (incredibly large black holes), these hypothetical space objects could be unimaginably larger than their meager supermassive counterparts due to the presence of completely different makeup.
When SMBHs become large by swallowing dying stars and / or merging with other black holes, SLABs are considered primary and thus would precede the formation of stars and galaxies.
According to a university press release:
Because “primary”; black holes are not formed by a collapsing star, they can have a wide range of masses, including very small and incredibly large ones. [Project lead] Professor Bernard Carr said: “We already know that black holes exist in a wide range of masses, with the SMBH of four million solar masses at the center of our own galaxy. Although there is currently no evidence for the existence of SLABs, it is possible that they exist and that they also live outside galaxies in intergalactic space.
Quick admission: The existence of countless primary black holes scattered throughout the darkness of space, ranging from small to unimaginably large, is pretty cool, but the real selling point here is what finding them can tell us about dark matter.
We cannot prove that dark matter exists because we have not yet found it, but we are almost certain that most of the universe consists of it. Many scientists believe that black holes are closely related to dark matter because of the way they deal with gravity.
The tracking and observation of SLAB could serve to fill some of the mysteries surrounding the origin of the universe and, appropriately correlated with other hypothetical types of black holes, finally lead us to humanity’s first measurable observation of dark matter against the backdrop of the universe.
You can read the research work of the team here.
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