In this sea of light resides a quiescent monster, a supermassive black hole equal to 21 billion suns.
The brightest orb in the center of this photograph captured by the Hubble Space Telescope is a galaxy some 300 million light-years away called NGC 4889.
At its core rests a supermassive black hole that is about 21 billion times the size of the sun, according to NASA and the European Space Agency.
Though you cannot see it in this image because black holes swallow light, NASA said it was one of the largest star devourers ever observed. It dwarfs the black hole that twists at the center of our Milky Way, which researchers estimate is only four million times the size of the sun. The monster once feasted upon many of its host galaxy’s stars, gas and dust, but is no longer active.
How long the SMBH remains quiet, no one knows.
Located about 300 million light-years away in the Coma Cluster, the giant elliptical galaxy NGC 4889, the brightest and largest galaxy in this image, is home to a record-breaking supermassive black hole. Twenty-one billion times the mass of the Sun, this black hole has an event horizon — the surface at which even light cannot escape its gravitational grasp — with a diameter of approximately 130 billion kilometres. This is about 15 times the diameter of Neptune’s orbit from the Sun. By comparison, the supermassive black hole at the centre of our galaxy, the Milky Way, is believed to have a mass about four million times that of the Sun and an event horizon just one fifth the orbit of Mercury.
The universe is not only stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine. - J.B.S. Haldane