Two black holes most massive ever found, astronomers say
Stars move in the central regions of an elliptical galaxy that has a supermassive black hole, according to an artist's concept.
December 5th, 2011
10:43 AM ET

Two black holes most massive ever found, astronomers say

Black holes: They're the most destructive monsters in the universe. We already knew they can be powerfully massive. Now scientists say they've found the most massive ones yet, as reported in the journal Nature.

How big?

The mass of each is about 10 billion times the mass of our sun. The previous black hole record holder, first measured in 1977, has a mass of about 6 billion suns.

And for each black hole, the "event horizon" basically areas from which nothing can escape their gravity is about five times the distance between our sun and Pluto.

"We started this search several years ago," said black hole hunter Chung-Pei Ma of the University of California, Berkeley. Using Hawaii's huge Keck telescope, and the Gemini and McDonald observatories, Ma says her team "targeted the biggest galaxies in the nearby universe because the biggest galaxies are most likely to host the most massive black holes."

One of the newly found black holes is 320 million light-years from Earth in the direction of the constellation Leo, and the other is 336 million light-years away toward the constellation Coma Berenices.

The awesome, overwhelming power behind black holes has captured the fascination of the astronomy world for generations, including great scientific minds such as Stephen Hawking and Albert Einstein. Their mass is so large they create gravity powerful enough to suck in stars, planets and even light. Some experts suspect black holes may be doors that lead to other galaxies or even alternative universes although it has not been proven.

Black holes abound in early universe

Up close, black holes would be invisible to the eye until they're ripping apart a nearby star or destroying a solar system. Then, said black hole specialist Janna Levin, they look like tornadoes.

Black holes can make sounds in the silence of space when their gravitational waves hit the Earth, Levin said.

Kip Thorne, professor emeritus at California Institute of Technology, offered some ideas in his 1993 book, "Black Holes and Time Warps: Einstein's Outrageous Legacy," which made him famous in black hole circles.

"He's actually working on a Hollywood movie right now with Steven Spielberg,"  Ma says. "Thorne says if you were to fall into a black hole, the difference between the gravity near your feet and near your head would be so powerful that you'd be torn apart.

"You could try to curl yourself up into a ball, to reduce that gravity difference, but eventually you'd just get torn up."

The discovery underscores what Ma says is one of the many big questions vexing black hole hunters. How do black holes grow? Do the most powerful ones gain mass differently from lesser ones? Is there a limit to how massive black holes can be? Are these newly discovered black holes at the top of the heap?

"We could be near the top," she says. "We should continue observing to see if these black holes are the biggest, or if they're just the tip of an iceberg.  Right now we're not sure."

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Filed under: Discoveries • In Space • News
soundoff (467 Responses)
  1. Mark from Louisiana

    Are both of them in the white house?

    December 6, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
    • tzvikF

      I thought one was called "The Senate" and the other is called "The House".

      December 6, 2011 at 12:26 pm |
  2. terre08

    Let me guess, where they found inside of Bachmann's and Perry's heads?

    December 6, 2011 at 12:12 pm |
    • Anon

      I can't help but point out here that you mispelled "were".

      December 6, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
      • uberzabor

        I can't help but to point out that you misspelled HIS misspelling.

        December 6, 2011 at 12:52 pm |
      • Stephen Hawking

        I can't help but to point out that "Uberzabor" misspelled nothing at all. Good job. lol

        December 6, 2011 at 3:25 pm |
  3. Damien

    OK, Herman Cain's one, who's the other?

    December 6, 2011 at 12:08 pm |
    • lolololol

      Obummer

      December 6, 2011 at 12:09 pm |
    • mb2010a

      Newt...

      December 6, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
    • aa

      second one is "obama'

      December 6, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
  4. Guest

    Our black holes are blacker than your black holes

    December 6, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
  5. John

    The universe is one giant black hole. The event horizon is about 14 billion light years away. Who knows what is outside it. Probably just more space and more stars and more black holes.

    December 6, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
    • JinxGT101

      Terrible theory...if the universe was inside a black hole then we'd be converging to a singularity however the opposite is true as it has been proven that the universe is expanding.

      December 6, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
      • Reply Man

        Expanding for now. Could be that we are simply in the mist of one or possibly billions of big bang cycles. At some point as energy draws to a close we may draw back to a singularity, who knows...its only time.

        December 6, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
      • divine_consciousness

        Not so terrible theory bud, the universe seems to work in a strange way; for instance everything seems to be going around something; the earth's going around the Sun, the Sun going around the middle of our galaxy and perhaps our galaxy's going around some sort of celestial body. So it's not too crazy to assume that perhaps we are inside a giant black hole that is inside another giant black hole that is inside another giant black hole that is inside another and so on infinitely. And perhaps we are coming out of the other side of the black hole suggesting the expansion of our universe. Getting pulled in initially reduces us into a singularity and coming out would expand us infinitely..."The Universe is a Ring, absolute and infinite at the same time like the numbers, no beginning and no end"

        December 6, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
      • kls817

        I concur with Jinx. We are not inside a black hole. The universe is expanding, and no, not everything is orbiting something else. All galaxies outside of our local group of galaxies are moving away from us and from one-another. This is proven by the red shift in their spectra and this is the reason for the big bang theory.

        December 6, 2011 at 2:25 pm |
      • Singularity

        Our moon rotates us and we rotate the sun which rotates around our supermassive blacke hole center (look it up) which rotates around singularity, all while we are on a very very slow crash course to Andromeade and their black hole center.It could be worse, people could roate around fatter people.

        September 5, 2012 at 10:54 pm |
  6. Iconoclast

    Oops! Wrong forum, thought this article was discussing the House and Senate.

    December 6, 2011 at 11:57 am |
  7. Greg

    Wow, NASA pulling out all the stops to try and make their jobs relavent! Sorry time to shut NASA down!

    December 6, 2011 at 11:56 am |
    • Kat

      This isn't NASA, and anyway, these sorts of observational surveys are super cheap to run once the telescopes are built.

      December 6, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
    • TheBiz

      Yes, scisence is so stupid. It teaches us stuff. I going to go eat cheeseburgers and watch X-factor now.

      December 6, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
      • noname

        Please tell me that was just sarcasm, PLEASE don't be serious.

        December 6, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
      • Mark C

        "Please tell me that was just sarcasm,"

        Gee, what tipped you off, Einstein?

        December 6, 2011 at 2:10 pm |
    • Kevin

      Yeah, shut down the .001 percent of the budget NASA takes up while maintaining the 60% of the budget defense takes up. Real smart, buddy. Maybe you should run for office.

      December 6, 2011 at 12:08 pm |
    • Jakedog

      Where is NASA in the article DA?

      December 6, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
    • Dav

      Wasn't NASA, 5th paragraph..."We started this search several years ago," said black hole hunter Chung-Pei Ma of the University of California, Berkeley." Pretty sure that doesn't say NASA.

      December 6, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
    • Greg Is An Idiot

      Hi, I'm Greg's conscience, you have to excuse him. Please, Greg, just shut your pie hole, you have too little knowledge, in that particle of brain you have lodged in your skull, to make those kind of assertions. Please just go back to sleep, please...

      December 6, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
    • rich b

      hey greg-maybe learn to spell before you make fun of nasa---bet from your from texas or somewhere else in the south

      December 6, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
      • GRAMMAR

        yes, greg is dumb and doesn't read before commenting....

        but, if YOU'RE going to make fun of him, at LEAST use the right form of "YOU'RE"

        December 6, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
      • GRAMMAR

        Speaking, of course, as someone who holds a degree, has published a thesis, and also happens to be born and raised in the south. I still live in NC. Next time you have a thought, just let it go....

        Stereotype much?

        December 6, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
      • Idk

        Going to beat the dead horse, but I have nothing better to do at the moment anyway. @GRAMMAR, "I still live in NC." Is a fragment. I guess no one is perfect.

        December 6, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
      • GRAMMAR

        Too true- grammatically, a semi-colon would have been more proper. However, as a sylistic choice (according to the Elements of Style, anyway), in some informal writing or in certain poems, a fragment is a fairly accepted way of "punching" a point.
        I do, however, concede the point. I merely took offense at greg's overgeneralization that all people who appear stupid MUST be from the south. Good eye, idk!

        December 6, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
      • GRAMMAR

        Oops! I meant RICH's overgeneralization. Greg, you have my apologies.

        December 6, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
    • Alpha47

      Let me guess, you're a right-wing god fearing creationist right? Black holes? horse hockey! The only things floating out there is Jesus right? NASA does more for the world than you know it. Most of the technology you use and probably depend on today came from NASA labs. Sure blackholes may never become relevant in our lives but the technology that they create today to search for them will benefit the world as practical products tomorrow.

      December 6, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
    • ry290

      Greg... you have ME feeling embarrassed for YOU...stop it. Stop it right now.

      December 6, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
    • mortalc01l

      It's SOOOOO nice to see that real sub-morons exist and can use Da Intrawebz to post their mindless drivel.

      Greg; your post may be the dumbest single thing I have ever seen on the Internet (an there's some REALLY dumb stuff out there).. you must be so proud.

      December 6, 2011 at 1:03 pm |
    • Nick

      Someone needs to tell Greg that the Iphone, IPad, Android phone or any phone that he wrote that comment from, or the directv he watches works because the satellies that NASA puts in space!!

      December 6, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
    • Greg's mom

      I'm sorry, you guys. I tried to teach him to read, I made him go to school every day, but the boy just doesn't learn.

      December 6, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
      • Matt

        That just made my life. :D

        April 25, 2013 at 9:03 pm |
  8. lolololol

    THe US debt system is a bigger black holes than these 2.

    December 6, 2011 at 11:56 am |
  9. Gracko

    So rewarding to see the anti-science crowd shut down so definitively when they come here to troll.

    December 6, 2011 at 11:54 am |
    • Kat

      It would be hilarious if it weren't so frightening.

      December 6, 2011 at 12:09 pm |
    • WhatWhatWhat?

      Yes, very frightening. Ckeck out the TV show 1000 Ways To Die to see what happens to those noodnicks because of their science knowledge deficiencies.

      December 6, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
  10. Chevalier63a

    I have a theory on black holes. How about the big bang came from a massive black hole because it has attained a critical mass to explode when it had nothing else to consume in the whole universe and then the cycle repeats itself. New small black holes born in the big bang with everything else. I would not be surprised that if we see fewer black holes today than at the beginning of the big bang, its because they absorbe each other with other matter in the universe until one day it becomes one massive black hole ready to explode again. My theory, maybe far fetched by who knows.

    December 6, 2011 at 11:47 am |
    • palintwit

      Wow. I think you can expect a scholarship from the Physics Department at Sarah Palin University ( Floyd County, Arkansas campus ).

      December 6, 2011 at 11:53 am |
    • palustris

      I concur. This theory makes the most sense on how everything has always existed and always will. Time and space is infinite, always recycling itself.

      December 6, 2011 at 11:59 am |
    • lolololol

      yeah who knows?? that's exactly what all this pseuso-science is all about anyway.

      December 6, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
    • Selmers

      Thats an old hypothesis

      December 6, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
    • Dave

      Not a very original theory. Thousands, if not hundreds of thousands have thought the same thing for many many years. Why not come up with something origianal, like the moon is made out or cheese or something.

      December 6, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
    • kruzerone

      I believe you are, essentially, right. What if, and the most interesting aspects of science often start with "what if," we ARE ON the other side of a black hole? What if our perspect is from the "other side" of a black hole. Does it matter which side we are on? Hmmm. If the gravitational pull is "X" on one side, why wouldn't it be equal on the "other" side? If it is equal on both sides, wouldn't the matter being sucked in collide somewhere in the middle of the black hole creating unimaginable energy. Perhaps, at that point is where our "big bang" occurred, and it is here we live.

      OK, I'll go back to my bowl of Fruit Loops, now. I'm exhausted.

      December 6, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
      • CSN

        @kruzerone

        Check out my newer post. This theory is precisely held by some leading physicists in the world. I think I saw it on History Channel.

        December 6, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
    • Icarus Zenero

      I believe your theory is sound, in that it demonstrates a good timeless loop within the theory of black holes. Until we reach an event horizon, however, we must assume that there is nothing inside.

      December 6, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
      • Idk

        Why must we assume there is nothing inside? It goes back to Schrödinger's question, if you put a cat in a box, the cat remains both dead and alive to the outside Universe. You will not know which until someone opens the box. That reminds me, should probably check on that cat.

        December 6, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
    • Hans

      You never know, you very well might be right. I remember back in 1990 while attending college, I wrote a paper in my Astronomy class and came up with the theory that black holes were in the center of every galaxy. I'll never forget my professor telling me that was a good idea, but, it was impossible. So, how do you like them apples now Prof? ;-)

      December 6, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
      • Fookin' Prawn

        Virtual high five, dude. I got the same answer from my prof too!

        December 6, 2011 at 3:00 pm |
    • Ricardo

      I've been trying to find the answer to this question for a while... Why is it that the images and animations of black holes show us a disc shape? Wouldn't a black hole be pulling in matter from all directions? Same goes for every image of a galaxy. Why is it disc shaped? Are we just not able to see it or is there a reason for it?

      I recall seeing a program that 'branes' were discussed, and when these branes touched each other, a new big bang would occur. superstringtheory.com/cosmo/cosmo5a1.html

      December 6, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
      • @Ricardo

        Hey Ricardo.. Actually, not every galaxy IS disk shaped.. you have spiral galaxies (like our Milky Way), elliptical galaxies (like the one mentioned) , barred spiral galaxies, and irregular galaxies. Elliptical galaxies could be formed either by the collision of spiral galaxies or all the gas is made into stars before the gas has time to form a disk, then you get an elliptical galaxy. The reason for the disc shape is simple.. as a solar system forms, the sun starts rotating and creates a basic gravity whirlpool...the same holds true for stars that collapsed into a black hole... that spin continues...as far as we know..forever. The same gravity whirlpool creates our Milky way spiral.
        Almost all solar systems hold to that disc shape whirlpool due to the spin of its sun. The only objects that have irregular paths are the ones captured later by the sun- comets, asteroids, even wandering planets. If two solar systems are close enough for their whirlpools to interact, then you would have a lot of irregularities.
        So, black holes are following the same set of rules... most things are going to flow into it along the path of its original spin, but a few objects will dive towards it from an acute angle.

        December 6, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
    • truth

      universe is one big black hole is correct. all will get sucket into it and when time is ript it explodes again

      December 6, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
    • mmm

      That basic idea has been around for quite a while. Physicists call that a closed universe. An open universe is where the bang was so big that the universe reached escape velocity which means that the gravitational attraction of the matter in the universe could not overcome the explosion and the universe would keep expanding forever – since the gravitational attraction was there the rate of expansion would slow down but it could keep going. Some 10 years or so ago two groups tried to answer the question of whether the universe was open or closed. They were basically looking to see how quickly the expansion was slowing down. If it was slowing at a fast enough rate then it would collapse back in on itself. If it was not slowing down fast enough then it would keep expanding forever. Funny thing though... The universe is not slowing down at all! it is expanding at an ever faster rate. If this makes no sense to you then you understood what I said. The universe just gets weirder and weirder every time we look at it. That's why scientists love their work so much. Always something new to find out.

      December 6, 2011 at 2:33 pm |
  11. joey

    i was at that exact same massage parlor

    December 6, 2011 at 11:43 am |
  12. sanchez

    dirty, but me like-y

    December 6, 2011 at 11:41 am |
  13. palintwit

    Astronomers at the Sarah Palin Galactic Observatory / Bait Shop have been studying this phenomenon and have concluded that teabaggers, birthers and the entire 2012 GOP presidential line-up all have black holes between their ears.

    December 6, 2011 at 11:39 am |
    • FedupUSSA

      I think it's quite apparent who has the blackest hole.... Not one of those that you listed comes to mind.. FAIL~Try again idiot.

      December 6, 2011 at 11:53 am |
      • palintwit

        Shoosh now. Get back in your trailer.

        December 6, 2011 at 11:57 am |
    • Paradigmatic

      Go back to your trailer and come up with something more constructive and articulate. Wait, you might have problems forming a multi-syllable word so so crack open a PBR and watch Jerry Springer instead.

      December 6, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
      • palintwit

        I'll be watching 'Deliverance' instead. A teabagger once told me it's an accurate depiction of conservative, christian life in America.

        December 6, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
    • Fookin' Prawn

      I'm worried about what the hell gets sold at that bait shop.

      December 6, 2011 at 3:04 pm |
  14. AtheismoMachismo

    Can Jesus walk on black hole?

    December 6, 2011 at 11:36 am |
    • FedupUSSA

      Jesus? Isn't that who mows my lawn?

      December 6, 2011 at 11:54 am |
  15. bristoltwit palin... America's favorite dancing cow

    Mmmmmmmm... chile ring

    December 6, 2011 at 11:32 am |
  16. Dr. Weir

    Whatever you do, don't build a ship that harnesses their power to create a tear in space-time in an attempt to reach Proxima Centauri. Remember what happened to the Event Horizon when they tried that:

    "LIBERA TE EX INFERNIS"

    December 6, 2011 at 11:26 am |
  17. FutureWizard

    Wow and I goggled this ring to figure out ..:(

    December 6, 2011 at 11:24 am |
    • WhatWhatWhat?

      You know what it means to "goggle a ring" don't you? You'd better look that one up too, although you probably won't like it either.

      December 6, 2011 at 1:00 pm |
  18. stvnkrs10

    "It's all circling the drain, the whole universe." Great quote from Chronicles of Riddick. Modern science is failing to grasp black holes are the recycle bins of the universe. They make matter form by sucking it in, much in the same way a hurricane creates the clouds around it, except it engulfs the matter it creates and then at some point shoots it back out again. Maybe it is true that God is black!

    December 6, 2011 at 11:22 am |
    • justmy3cents

      No, not quite .. they don't create matter by absorbing it, and the matter they absorb doesn't get ejected. Hawking radition, however, does predict that energy (and there, via Einstein's famous equation, E=mc^2) can get released as a result of black holes, and under proper conditions, ultimately lead to the "death" of a black hole.

      December 6, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
      • stvnkrs10

        I beg to differ Sir! Please observe this link from Nasa's website. It states they expel radio emitting gas, gas is matter if I am not mistaken :) http://www.nasa.gov/topics/universe/features/radio-particle-jets.html

        December 6, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
      • stvnkrs10

        Also let me clarify my statement, I don' believe they create the matter by sucking it in, I believe the matter clumps and forms in in to larger matter by the gravity formed from the black holes at the center of each galaxy much like the atmospheric disturbance from a hurricane causes clouds to form on Earth or planets in the solar system.

        December 6, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
      • WhatWhatWhat?

        The jets from the black hole are ejecting matter from the "galaxy" they are in, not the black hole. The black hole is sucking crap in just as fast as it's ejecting the galaxies mass out into space, probably even more. You need to study about black holes first, and then re-read your reference.

        December 6, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
    • WhatWhatWhat?

      From your conversation, it appears that your entire scientific knowledge is based on Hollywood. You should go back to "Entertainment Tonight", and leave the scientific discussions to those of us who are better equipped to discuss them, thank you.

      December 6, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
      • stvnkrs10

        I posted my link above backing my statement. Now please prove me wrong with your clever wit and unparalleled knowledge of the makings of the universe please. You are so eager to condescend but provide no backings of your own. I will wait attentively.

        December 6, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
      • WhatWhatWhat?

        "They make matter form by sucking it in", what the hell is that supposed to mean? The matter was already "formed" when it fell into the black hole, it gets "un-formed" when it goes in. Also, hurricanes operate by differences in temperature and pressure. A black hole operates by gravity. Can you see the difference? They aren't alike at all, except in your feeble mind, because you saw pictures that looked alike in some movie somewhere.

        December 6, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
      • WhatWhatWhat?

        See my comment above for my unparalleled wisdom, which you should be bowing down before, in shame.

        December 6, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
      • Alpha47

        stvnkrs10, you just need to stop talking. Your points were already invalid the moment you tried to quote a Riddick movie to the actual workings of the universe. Then you went and compared hurricanes to blackholes. You might as well went and compared blackholes to the digestive system.

        December 6, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
      • Shannon

        So I’m not entirely convinced that either of you know exactly what’s going on, but I don’t think you have no clue either.
        First, a brief review of science class. The Law of Conservation of Matter states that matter cannot be created or destroyed (formed or unformed), only converted from one form to another. Water is an easy example of this. When it evaporates, it’s still water, just in a different form. A more complicated example is fusion of hydrogen into helium and so forth in stars. The matter is neither “made” or “unmade” just converted. I think stvnkrs was sorta close with “matter clumps and forms in in to larger matter by the gravity formed from the black holes”, but what actually happens is counter intuitive. As more matter falls into the black hole, the actual point at the center of the black hole where all the matter is concentrated gets smaller and smaller, infinitely so, yet has infinite gravity.
        The stuff “ejected” from the black hole doesn’t really come from the black hole per say. What happens is that the matter around the black hole gains so much energy, from friction where it is running into other stuff around the black hole that it is able to fly off into space. That is if it is far enough from the event horizon to do so. This is where the radio/infrared/x-ray/gamma rays come from. Not the matter that has already fallen into the black hole because, as you know, the gravity is so intense that nothing can escape, but the matter that is able to gain enough energy that it is able to “escape” being pulled into the black hole.

        December 6, 2011 at 2:12 pm |
  19. alewatcher

    Albert Einstein never believed black holes actually existed, even though the math says they should.

    December 6, 2011 at 11:17 am |
    • Kristina Erin Kaye

      Einstein did believe Black Holes existed!

      December 6, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
    • WhatWhatWhat?

      Wrong! Only a few months after Einstein presented General Relativity, Schwarzschild found a solution to the field equations which describes the gravitational field of a black hole. How can you not believe something that your own theory says is true?

      December 6, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
  20. Ben

    I thought this article was about Obamas ears

    December 6, 2011 at 11:11 am |
    • benice

      I thought it was about you.

      December 6, 2011 at 11:20 am |
    • lunchbreaker

      It was actually about your brain. It's incredibly dense, and the only thing that can escape is your ideas, because they lack substance.

      December 6, 2011 at 11:21 am |
      • CT

        Ahahahahaha!

        December 6, 2011 at 11:50 am |
    • breanna

      stop hateing u just mad u aint the president

      December 6, 2011 at 11:27 am |
      • FedupUSSA

        Hateing? U just mad? I think this speaks enough for itself. Wow.... Do you even know how to vote or did they fill it out for you?

        December 6, 2011 at 11:56 am |
      • lynne

        In the name of all that is holy....

        Please, PLEASE, if you are going to take the time to post a comment on CNN, at LEAST be literate and try to read the actual article on which you intend to comment.

        December 6, 2011 at 3:15 pm |
    • Dandy

      Is that a picture of Bachmann's brain?

      December 6, 2011 at 11:38 am |
  21. WIZARDO

    so the big bang was a bunch of rocks and gas shooting out of another universe?

    December 6, 2011 at 5:51 am |
    • FutureWizard

      U mean Sheldon from Big bang theory SIT COM?

      December 6, 2011 at 11:26 am |
    • Spock

      Yep – our universe is the toilet of some other universe. Kind of puts things in perspective doesn't it?

      December 6, 2011 at 11:30 am |
      • Dandy

        Sheeeeet!

        December 6, 2011 at 11:38 am |
  22. YoDawg

    Goodnight everyone and you too LINDA LINDA LINDA LINDA................LOL

    December 6, 2011 at 3:22 am |
  23. SC

    I believe Kip Thorne is from Caltech, not UC Berkeley!

    December 6, 2011 at 3:13 am |
    • Rus

      Kip Thorne has been at Caltech for decades. The article is mistaken.

      December 6, 2011 at 2:27 pm |
  24. YoDawg

    So Linda you call all these people losers for reading this stuff and you had to have read it yourself to comment on it. So what does that make you????????????? And if you are really one of gods childs you know you are not to judge people. Only He can judge, also you need help , git off the internet and read your bible you really need it. God Bless

    December 6, 2011 at 3:09 am |
  25. eville11

    give me a super large x ray machine at 450Hz aimed counter spin at the event horizon and a few years and I could shut the thing off.

    December 6, 2011 at 2:30 am |
  26. NormJo

    I like Alejandro's idea....each black hole may be the seed of the beginning of a new universe when it has it's own big bang at some future time. I like to ponder whether mass and energy are infinite? I learned at Minnesota IT that they are really the same thing in a different form, back in the 60's. Any help with my ponderings is appreciated. Quantum physics and dark matter are beyond my mental constraints. Changing the subject a bit....with billions of galaxies, and billions of stars (presumable "solar systems") in each galaxy, what is the possibility of millions of planets with various life forms on them? And then, of some of those life forms having visited earth, even back when only dinosaurs occupied our planet? Mind boggling to me.

    December 6, 2011 at 1:54 am |
    • joe Kingsley

      keep thinking... you may be on the right track. This is an area we know allot of what 'we do not know'; in other words, we know what we do not know! I remember doing orbital physics with a string and golf ball! Creative and guessing ideas get us one step ahead. We are on the brink of really just understanding OUR world!

      December 6, 2011 at 2:44 am |
  27. Jealous

    Super massive awesome!

    December 6, 2011 at 1:48 am |
  28. DumbButNotThatDumb

    "Two black holes, most massive ever found, astronomers say."
    That headline makes me want to throw up!
    As a nuclear physicist, I teach my children and grandchildren to speak and write better in elementary school than this.
    Good story.
    Horrendous writing.
    Off with their heads!

    December 6, 2011 at 1:20 am |
    • joe Kingsley

      also as a nuclear physicist, you have your head in an area the sun does not shine! This is important and needs serious input to encourage others to go where you and I did not!!!

      December 6, 2011 at 1:25 am |
    • Reality Check

      Sentence sounds, like Yoda wrote, it does.

      December 6, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
  29. b4bigbang

    1 (To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.) The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.

    December 6, 2011 at 1:10 am |
  30. Joey

    Why are toilet paper and the Starship Enterprise alike?

    They both circle Uranus and wipe out the Klingons!

    LOL

    December 6, 2011 at 1:07 am |
  31. Sam

    I'm just waiting for the Michelle Obama jokes to start.

    December 6, 2011 at 12:52 am |
    • Roger Noe

      Sam, I'm just waiting for your racism to be cured. It is more destructive than any black hole.

      December 6, 2011 at 1:34 am |
  32. Cyrus

    So, this is not Obama's fault?

    December 6, 2011 at 12:36 am |
  33. RTRETRET

    Millions upon millions of dollars are spent by scientist every year looking for life on other planets, yet if anyone other than the inner-circle claims to have found it, they accuse you of wearing a tin foil helmet. Strange world we live in.

    December 6, 2011 at 12:30 am |
  34. Strange Places

    What's difference between Uranus and Blackhole?

    December 6, 2011 at 12:27 am |
    • Guest

      about three Inches?

      December 6, 2011 at 12:29 am |
  35. Dave

    What amazes me is, this black hole is 320 million light years away, meaning, what they see in the telescope took place 320 million years ago as it's image is now.

    What is the actual configuration of this hole as we speak?..larger? did it die out?...any ways of projecting them?

    December 6, 2011 at 12:27 am |
    • Tom

      Well, your question kind of gets tricky when you ask how it is "as we speak"... as far as we're concerned, as big as what we see now is how big it is... to us. Time is not constant throughout the universe, which is kind of the basis for the "light year". Since space and time is relative, and light is the fastest thing going in the universe (theres new research being done that may disprove this, but for our purposes lets say it is) that means all that we see around us is what is happening at our time in our part of the universe. Light is what determines our visual reality; if that light hasn't gotten here yet, then for our purposes it does not yet exist in our time. If you were at the vantage point of an object 300 million li.years, you would see the earth as it was 300 million years ago. But if you had a camera set up on another object that was 150 million li. years away and you could somehow get an instantaneous live feed (which technically is impossible) you would see the earth at the same time 150 million years ago while looking at it 300 million years ago. Also, (this is going to confuse you even more if this is your first sort of exposure to this theory) if you were to truly travel at the speed of light, you would be everywhere in the universe at all times always. Because relative to you, time (which is based on light traveling at the speed of light) would stop, because nothing is moving faster to you.
      I hope this clears at least some aspect up for you, although i feel like i may have just turned your mind to mush with these confusing theories. It certainly did it to mine initially.

      December 6, 2011 at 1:02 am |
      • joe Kingsley

        Tom, that was good. I some times think that we are electrons (Earth) in someones shirt!..some would influence you and say "God"...You are thinking about items in the new frontier and WILL influence life in the future. Period.

        December 6, 2011 at 1:21 am |
      • Josh

        ...But if you had a camera set up on another object that was 150 million li. years away and you could somehow get an instantaneous live feed (which technically is impossible)...

        All you need is a camera and a monitor that are quantum entangled and you have your instantaneous live feed. ;)

        Theoretical physics states that space and time are united as one as "spacetime". It also states that time is an illusion. So if space and time are one, then doesn't that mean that space is an illusion also?

        December 6, 2011 at 1:30 am |
    • Cipher

      It probably has grown larger. This black hole is in the center of a galaxy and all of the stars in that galaxy revolve around it. The big debate now is, do black holes decay? Some believe they do and some think they don't. If they do decay, it would take a very very very very X 10000000 time. This black hole will live long enough to devour everything in its own galaxy.

      Has far as predicting the size, that would be very hard. This thing is in another galaxy. It took us 10+ years to map a decent prediction of the stars orbiting close to our own super massive black hole in our galaxy.

      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UWv47SOZTQg&w=640&h=390]

      December 6, 2011 at 1:06 am |
  36. Jon Doe

    I find blk holes interesting yet also terrifying, thank God there's not one swallowing up Earth or other parts of our little galaxy

    December 6, 2011 at 12:25 am |
    • hate to inform you

      The center of our galaxy is one itself, there are dozens in our galaxy alone.

      December 6, 2011 at 12:37 am |
  37. horsesmouth

    One more question for everybody since you guys and gals have been so kind to respond. How the HECK does something that large, become so small? Furthermore, at what point does it stop "shrinking"? When does it say to itself, ok, I've condensed all I can and no more? Can it only reach the size of the smallest particle?!?!? AND STILL HAVE SO MUCH MASS?!?!?! Wow, the more I think about this stuff the more it drives me crazy! Funny to think all of this goes on around us, and we sit here idle and oblivious to it (well most of us anyway)!

    December 6, 2011 at 12:16 am |
    • itsreald

      AS STATED, ITS JUST GRAVITY...IN FACT, THEY SAY THAT BLACK HOLES ARE VERY SMALL COMPARED TO STARS...THEIR MASS IS HUGE HUGELY HUMONGOUS...BUT THEY HAVE SUSPECTED SOME ARE AS SMALL AS SMALL CITIES SIZES...

      December 6, 2011 at 12:45 am |
      • joe Kingsley

        current Nobel Prize in Physics addresses the concept of "Dark Energy" which is orders of magnitude larger than our gravity. During Newtons period , we did not know magnetism, nor static electricity,...both of which follow the same physics laws and now impact our daily lives...but now we know and control these forces! Gravity follows the same laws of physics. WE need to learn and understand, this IS the new frontier!!! You are reading material impacting YOUR future!!

        December 6, 2011 at 12:59 am |
      • Joe T.

        The only way to know is to get in there and find out the size that it condenses to. Who wants to volunteer?

        December 6, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
    • Mr. M

      It stops when it can simply take no more compression. We're still trying to figure out what exactly a black hole IS, once we do that then we can start moving on to answer your question.

      December 6, 2011 at 12:51 am |
      • horsesmouth

        haha! Well don't let me stand in your way! By all means.....figure out!

        December 6, 2011 at 12:56 am |
    • Cipher

      Its hard to imagine whats going on in a black hole at the singularity. The math leads us to infinites.

      When a massive star collapses. It will crush down on its atoms. All atoms repeal each other, but its so heavy it wins over this force and keeps going. If it can't it hits a wall, causing an equal and opposite reaction outwards resulting in a super nova explosion.

      When it wins out, all of its mass just goes in on it self. Its hard to imagine, 160 billion suns the size smaller of an atom, crazy. Imagine it as a hole in the ground that goes on forever and the farther it goes the more the gravity it has. Thats essentially what it is in space.

      December 6, 2011 at 1:16 am |
      • Cipher

        But this Black Hole wouldn't have been formed from a star, but was created when the galaxy was formed. It was the first thing.

        December 6, 2011 at 1:19 am |
  38. kev

    I were inside a black hole last night, i didn't feel much gravity though

    December 6, 2011 at 12:16 am |
    • Guest

      Thats not a nice thing to say about your mom

      December 6, 2011 at 12:27 am |
  39. McLovin

    I love this kind of science. I wish we understood what actually causes objects with mass to exert gravity. If scientists finally find the "Higgs" particle, then maybe we could understand gravity enough to learn more about these black holes. We all walk around accepting gravity without knowing what it is...strange

    December 5, 2011 at 11:58 pm |
    • H.J. Detweiler

      ...and I'll bet 10 USD that they never find the Higgs! Well... 5 USD anyway.

      Ok Higgs boson is probably the right answer, but I honestly am leaning slightly toward it not being so

      December 6, 2011 at 12:09 am |
    • Joe Kingsley

      worked with Howard Hughes on this, my dream is to understand gravity and control like electricity and magnetism ,,,,it will be done and I hope in my life time...my graduate work and dream

      December 6, 2011 at 12:23 am |
  40. horsesmouth

    Don't know much about physics or science, but constantly intrigued. Question for those who may know (and please try and keep any answers as "layman" as possible!): What's from stopping a black hole starting tomorrow somewhere in our galaxy and just swallowing us up in the blink of an eye? Is this not possible b/c the nearest star is too far away from us to affect us? I understand our sun won't burn out and cause this kind of chaos for quite some time, but what's stopping another star from dying out and then affecting us, physically?!?!?!

    December 5, 2011 at 11:52 pm |
    • Jon

      As I understand it, it takes special kind of stars with a lot of mass to form black holes. (Red supergiants? Am I remembering that correctly?) – Anyway, I don't think there are any in our local neighborhood. And even when they happen, black holes usually aren't powerful enough to pull in anything outside of their local system. The exceptions are the big fellows, like the ones describe in the article, that exist at the heart of certain galaxies... but they probably take billions of years to form.

      December 5, 2011 at 11:59 pm |
      • horsesmouth

        Appreciate the insight, Jon!!!! Like I say, I'm just a layman and chose to study law instead of physics (probably big mistake on my part!) : ) One more question, since I like to read up on this stuff, has Hawkings theory of black holes (the idea that they turn something into nothing) been successfully challenged yet? I know it's questionable and many in the community refuse to accept it, just wondering where it stands at this point! Thanks!

        December 6, 2011 at 12:06 am |
      • Jon

        Hrm. As I understand it, I don't think Hawking ever claimed that black holes actually *destroy* matter and energy... actually, I think he might have said that they *don't.* There's this thing called Hawking radiation, named after him, where black holes will actually slowly release or leak bits of the energy they've pulled in back out. Anyway, that said, from what I've heard, it is believed that the normal laws of physics as we know them simply don't apply within the boundaries of a black hole's event horizon. There's simply no way to tell what goes on within that space. Scary thought, huh? - And don't sweat it. I'm not even slightly a scientist here. Just another curious soul like yourself. :) Take it easy.

        December 6, 2011 at 12:14 am |
    • McLovin

      Your right when you said that the nearest stars are too far away to really affect us. Alpha Centauri (the closest star to our sun) is still over 4 light years away. Also, only a very massive sun (supernova) form a black hole when they die. Our sun is only a medium sized star, and will eventually burn out to form a white dwarf.

      December 6, 2011 at 12:05 am |
    • TeknoLogic

      Actually, there are already black holes in our galaxy (The Milky Way). In fact, the black hole at the center of our galaxy is considered a super-massive black hole (Sagittarius A-star) , and it's gravitational pull is so strong that our sun orbits it (all stars in our galaxy do). As for a black hole just forming nearby, this is very unlikely, as black holes are thought to be formed during a supernovae explosion, which will most likely not happen to our sun. However, as for what's stopping a rogue black hole from zipping past and swallowing our entire solar system up? Nothing.

      December 6, 2011 at 12:05 am |
      • horsesmouth

        You just blew my mind! So our sun is orbiting "the center of our galaxy?" So this means that our planet (all planets in our solar system for that matter) also travel around the galaxy along with the sun? That's pretty neat stuff if I'm looking at this correctly!

        December 6, 2011 at 12:11 am |
      • joe Kingsley

        thank you for putting this clearly,,,we are a small "dot" (earth) on a gigantic typewriter in which the master typist is someone we do not know nor understand....and we are consumed with politics and ignore global warming and totally our future. I am glad I have had a full life and will not have to face the future in ignorance ......

        December 6, 2011 at 12:35 am |
    • H.J. Detweiler

      Excellent question!

      It takes a high-mass star to produce a black hole, and there are none anywhere near our sun.

      While there are some postulates floating around out there about the dangers of micro black holes, almost everyone agrees that there is effectively no wide-scale danger from them.

      We effectively have no risk whatsoever from black holes on Earth

      December 6, 2011 at 12:06 am |
    • Juan Carlos

      Typically, black holes are caused by the collapse of a star... when a star has consumed all of its available fuel. Once it's burned out, it goes nova, or supernova, depending on its size (well, really, mass).

      If the mass of the star exceeds a certain limit, then the repellant forces between particles (or even sub-atomic particles) isn't enough to prevent them from staying apart, and you get what can be imagined as super-dense matter. Imagine compressing a mountain into a sugar cube. Now imagine compressing all of earth into a sugar cube. Now imagine compressing an entire sun (8,000 earths) into a sugar cube. Now pretend it's not a sugar cube, but a sugar crystal.

      That sugar crystal would weigh (and have the mass) of 8,000 earths. Now instead of it being a sugar crystal, imagine it's a single molecule of sugar. With the mass of the sun. Now imagine it's not like our sun (which isn't big enough to cause a collapse of this magnitude... ours would collapse into a neutron star which is perhaps understandable... it might be the size of a basketball, but with the mass of 8,000 earths. Hard to dribble.

      But you take a super-massize star that's 8,000,000 earths and you pack all that mass into a singularity, literally one microscopic dot... there's your black hole, whose mass is so huge that it's gravitational pull sucks everything nearby into it.

      So to summarily answer your question, you'd need something that massive nearby to burn out its fuel and collapse... to have a black hole appear around here. The closest thing is our sun, which isn't big enough anyway, and which has enough fuel to last several billion more years.

      December 6, 2011 at 12:10 am |
      • Jon

        And I don't think even the sun has enough mass to become a black hole. Am I right?

        December 6, 2011 at 12:23 am |
      • Ricardo

        I've been trying to find the answer to this question for a while... Why is it that the images and animations of black holes show us a disc shape? Wouldn't a black hole be pulling in matter from all directions? Same goes for every image of a galaxy. Why is it disc shaped? Are we just not able to see it or is there a reason for it?

        December 6, 2011 at 12:56 am |
      • emgee

        Ricardo- What you see formed as a disc is called an accretion disc. The reason it appears that way is due to the spin of the black hole. Its spin influences incoming particles to form this shape.

        December 7, 2011 at 8:10 am |
    • MandoZink

      Even if a star in are local galactic area did happen to turn into a black hole, it would have no more mass than it had just before it turned into one. That means it would still have the same gravitational pull as the mass it was made of. If the earth suddenly collapsed into a black hole (not to worry), it would STILL have the same mass as before, and the the moon would continue orbiting around it as before. We would have already been in peril long ago from any nearby star that was actually massive enough to destroy us if it became a black hole.

      The recent Star Trek movie erroneously had a ship collapse into a black hole and suddenly act as if it were a super-massive object with extreme pull. It would be no more massive than the ship it was made from.

      December 6, 2011 at 12:30 am |
      • MandoZink

        Correction: "Even if a star in OUR local galactic area ..."
        Man that hurts. I was our grade school spelling champ back in the 60's. Ouch!!

        And thanks McAfee. That would have been my other elucidation.

        December 6, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
    • McAfee

      The effects of black holes are actually fairly limited by their mass. For example, if the sun suddenly turned into a black hole, earth and all the planets would continue along their normal orbits. This is because while an event horizon will be formed, there is no new mass and the gravitational effects will be the same.

      December 6, 2011 at 11:04 am |
  41. marc

    black holes bring funny jokes, you guys have strayed. the immense amount of gravity, our stupid little minds will never get. we aren't touching the ice berg yet.

    December 5, 2011 at 11:41 pm |
  42. DALE EARNHARDT RULEZ

    A'HHUCK! THE SOUTH WILL RISE AGAIN!

    December 5, 2011 at 11:38 pm |
  43. H.J. Detweiler

    One other note, basically in response to a response to my earlier post:

    Please do bear in mind that these articles are at least based on science (cosmology), whereas notions such as the Omega Point or the Simulation Argument are philosophy at best, or, frankly, pseudoscience. That is not to say they are wrong, necessarily, but these questions are outside the purview of science.

    It might be more beneficial if comments not of the 'awesome stuff!' sort were more in reference to the intrinsic science behind the article. Science is the second most powerful tool humanity has invented (IMHO), and reading about black holes is one excellent way to stay in touch with the just fascinating advances in our knowledge about the universe

    December 5, 2011 at 11:31 pm |
  44. Timm Scalf

    So much with better living through science.

    December 5, 2011 at 11:29 pm |
  45. nick k

    The last time I checked, gravity waves were not confirmed to exist. In fact, there are major searches for gravity waves hitting Earth with no positive results yet. Please do not represent unconfirmed theory as fact. If gravity waves exist, they hit Earth; gravity waves have never been detected. That is all.

    December 5, 2011 at 11:23 pm |
    • H.J. Detweiler

      Hardly Cricket to say 'that is all,' if I may be so bold. But you are correct; unproven, despite notable efforts to do otherwise. The lack of evidence may just be an artifact of instruments not yet sensitive enough (or not far enough from Earth yet) to do so.

      I'd bet 50 USD that they exist! Maybe not 100 USD ;)

      December 5, 2011 at 11:35 pm |
      • nick k

        I actually bet that they exist as well, but it's like saying that the Higgs exists because the W and Z bosons were discovered and the top quark came about where it was expected. There's an active search for the Higgs (not found this year!) but the search doesn't mean it exists. I'll bet you a keg of Guinness that there's no Higgs.

        December 6, 2011 at 9:53 am |
    • Jon

      Actually, I think I remember hearing they were detected a year or so ago. Don't quote me on that.

      December 6, 2011 at 12:10 am |
      • nick k

        Neg - one event of indirect evidence from energy loss from a supernova that is consistent with gravity waves. It's hopeful, but that's no smoking gun and it's not a discovery-grade result.

        December 6, 2011 at 9:49 am |
    • 1nd3p3nd3nt

      i thought it had more to do with, what was it, gamma radiation that black holes send out now and then, and not the gravity itself.

      December 6, 2011 at 12:33 am |
    • Jonathan

      No gravity waves, but I did see a very interesting video on gravity strings that can escape a black hole for millions of miles, with a magnetic field acting as the skeletal system for support, allowing them to go on for long time. They have a lot of mass for being just strings, growing into space, not collapsing on themselves to form a star. That's some good reading!

      January 3, 2012 at 11:23 am |
  46. Kevin

    I can't understand one thing about the artists perception. Why are stars revolving around the black hole like in orbit and if you see a black hole can it also be seen if you get behind it from where you first were and why do they think it is round?

    December 5, 2011 at 11:10 pm |
  47. pegregstrian

    The most amazing thing about this is the way that gravity impacts time. The more gravitational force that is present in a given area, the more slowly time moves. If someone were falling into a black hole and someone else were able to observe them, the observer would see the black hole's victim travelling in extreme slow motion while the observer would appear to be moving incredibly fast. That's why clocks on satellites that orbit the Earth need to run slightly more slow than clocks on Earth.

    December 5, 2011 at 11:06 pm |
    • hihumanity!

      why a black hole is the ultimate computer guys:

      http://www.ar-tiste.com/qcomp_onion/jan2002/UltimateLaptop.htm

      +

      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_cKj3kx4NTY&w=640&h=390]

      +

      math proof of god:

      http://onision.net/index.php?/topic/41841-math-proof-of-god-short-version-update-all-youtube-videos-now-from-regular-site/page__hl__%2Bmath+%2Bproof+%2Bof+%2Bgod__fromsearch__1

      the more entropic an enviroment, the more it can simulate-infinite complexity = infinite randomness..

      which means that we will evolve into a quantum computer due to biology's trajectory to higher orders of complexity on reality's own source code–the plank scale and the black hole.

      December 5, 2011 at 11:12 pm |
      • hihumanity!

        short version of the god proof to get you interested (just one page for easy reading):

        http://onision.net/index.php?/topic/41844-math-proof-of-god-really-really-short-version/page__hl__%2Bmath+%2Bproof+%2Bof+%2Bgod__fromsearch__1

        December 5, 2011 at 11:13 pm |
      • hihumanity!

        so reality itself is God, and a black hole a focul point....a focus of awareness. 2001 space odyssey kind of thing

        December 5, 2011 at 11:14 pm |
      • Fnordz

        Stop smoking that stuff man.

        December 5, 2011 at 11:20 pm |
  48. hihumanity!

    that is one large dilemma!

    I think we can both agree though that they are both pretty MASSIVE load of bs.

    December 5, 2011 at 11:05 pm |
  49. André

    You sound like a Tea Party activist.

    December 5, 2011 at 11:05 pm |
  50. sonic10158

    In my opinion, black holes are the most fascinating things in the cosmos. Especially because of the fact that so little is known about them.

    December 5, 2011 at 10:56 pm |
    • hihumanity!

      or because the more entropic an environment the more it can simulate?

      www(dot)ar-tiste(dot)com/qcomp_onion/jan2002/UltimateLaptop(dot)htm

      (dot) = .

      December 5, 2011 at 11:07 pm |
    • hihumanity!

      the omega point is being simulated on a black hole and on the plank scale obviously...reality is information.

      www(dot)youtube(dot)com/watch?v=_cKj3kx4NTY

      (dot)=.

      December 5, 2011 at 11:09 pm |
      • hihumanity!

        [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_cKj3kx4NTY&w=640&h=390]

        December 5, 2011 at 11:09 pm |
  51. Rob

    Ah something I already knew.

    December 5, 2011 at 10:56 pm |
  52. Umb

    ... these comments still aren't as bad as the sewers of YouTube.

    December 5, 2011 at 10:42 pm |
  53. Just Saying

    I once heard that black holes are full of disease

    December 5, 2011 at 10:37 pm |
  54. H.J. Detweiler

    ALAS! My dead fellow readers; surely if you are here, you must share some interest in this. While there are some rather disturbing inaccuracies in the article (i.e., 'Some experts suspect black holes may be doors that lead to other galaxies or even alternative universes,' which no published, peer-reviewed cosmologist I know of would agree with), nevertheless the fact that you are here reading this is hopeful.

    I implore you to ignore the flaming comments, and continue to pursue the knowledge of the cosmos. Yes, there are many ignorant comments on topic herein, but on the path to enlightenment, surely most of us are guilty of such?

    I will mention, though, that referring to a 'theory' as unproven is somewhat unhelpful; indeed once something has become widely accepted theory in science, it typically can be thought of as pretty solid. Gravity is only a theory; as is plate tectonics. In many ways, one is well served to consider theory to be more sound that 'facts' – with some caveats, of course!

    Thank you for reading this; I hope you continue your pursuit of knowledge!

    December 5, 2011 at 10:30 pm |
    • cykill

      yeah! i was just about to say that!

      December 5, 2011 at 10:46 pm |
    • hihumanity!

      empiricism is not true knowledge. Yet, empirical theory can be a good starting point for discussion for it is generally acceptable and respectable so that evidence to the contrary can make it knowledge worthy...
      ;)

      youre doing just fine..friend...

      December 5, 2011 at 11:04 pm |
  55. steve

    320 million light-years from Earth? Wow, the size of the universe boggles my mind, I love this stuff!

    December 5, 2011 at 10:30 pm |
  56. Patti

    I really wish CNN would disallow comments. I lose hope for humanity every time I read what the retards post after articles like this.

    December 5, 2011 at 10:18 pm |
    • Yossarian

      Or at the bare minimum have some kind of competency exam prior to being permitted to post.

      December 5, 2011 at 10:24 pm |
    • Umb

      Well atleast its CNN. There are worse out there. Believe me... 8I

      December 5, 2011 at 10:48 pm |
    • just d

      Great comment Patti.

      December 5, 2011 at 10:54 pm |
  57. Gazork

    After reading all the comments I am under the impression that all these immature minds blow up with access to all the recent theories. Possibly mature minds are holding their comments.

    December 5, 2011 at 10:14 pm |
  58. Dave

    OMG some of your comments are way off topic, It goes to show how Humanity is still in its infancy, I believe it will take at least several thousands of years for Humans to understand what's really out there, that is if we don't blow ourselves up squabbling and fighting about the little stuff. God help us all.

    December 5, 2011 at 10:06 pm |
  59. Just Tom

    This may have already been asked. I tried to wade through the epithets and finally scrolled through the rest to ask this: If the universe is expanding could the beginning of "our" universe be from a "filled" black hole. Or, if we are "contracting", could it be that we are in the "current" of an unseen black hole? Thanks for answering.

    December 5, 2011 at 9:58 pm |
    • Umb

      :0 ... I'm sure someone has disproven this, or there may be physics that are beyond my comprehension that would never make sense with this. BUT THAT SOUNDS SO DAMN COOL.

      December 5, 2011 at 10:49 pm |
    • ShouldHaveStudiedPhysics

      What you are describing sounds like the Holographic principle (?). It says that when objects fall into a black hole, their image is stored on the surface of the black hole like a hologram. The holographic principle says that all objects in our universe are actually projections of a hologram stored at the outer surface of the universe. I'm not sure I'm saying it right.

      December 6, 2011 at 12:30 am |
  60. hihumanity!

    hi! Im coming home!

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x9OSXsB946k&w=640&h=390]

    December 5, 2011 at 9:49 pm |
    • Phil

      Gosh! Thanks so much for posting this link to the 'Major Tom' video! Such a classic! Back from the Shuttle program's infancy, a time when unfortunately nobody really gave a damn. Such an era - just like the moon landings. I always preached we ought to have made a permanent international moon base - equipped with science labs, and really massive telescopes undifferent than the Hubble, though always at a ready reach for repairs by moon-based crews. The shuttles, lunar landing modules and lunar rovers would have completed the package. We wouldn't really need a space station to build and maintain. Just the moon base – and such to build international teamwork to work together. So sad that these ideas were never put to the test. I figured it would all be a no-brainer! Sigh!!! I've seen the evolution of John Glenn's era to dissolve into a virual blackhole of a space program. The Mars lander missions are exceptional to say the least, but we Earthlings could do much much better!

      December 6, 2011 at 12:09 am |
  61. http://twitter.com/whybs

    Look no further! The largest black hole is our government! :)

    December 5, 2011 at 9:48 pm |
    • Jim

      That is HILARIOUS!!! And so original!

      December 6, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
  62. IrishYank2

    That photo is absolutely amazing

    December 5, 2011 at 9:46 pm |
    • John

      it isn't a photo.. it's an artist's rendering.

      December 5, 2011 at 10:11 pm |
    • JoeJoeJoeJoe

      It's not a photo, read the caption. It's an artist's rendition.

      December 5, 2011 at 10:12 pm |
  63. Badly-Bent

    I'm guessing that gravity distorts (or changes the shape of) the orbit of electrons circling a nucleous. So, a black hole should create even more profound distortions in those tiny orbits?

    December 5, 2011 at 9:43 pm |
    • JoeJoeJoeJoe

      that doesn't make sense.

      December 5, 2011 at 10:13 pm |
      • LHandRBrain

        It seems that it is you that does not understand as opposed to Badly Bent not making sense. Simply put: gravity affects how atoms react, therefore black-hole must severely affect atoms because of the inconceivable gravity Black-holes emit.

        If I'm missing something here, please be constructive in your criticism.

        December 5, 2011 at 10:37 pm |
    • CSher

      Gravity is actually a weak force compared the the forces that hold atoms together.

      December 5, 2011 at 10:28 pm |
    • Tom

      The stereotypical idea of electrons orbiting a nucleus like plants around a star is just a model to help people understand them. They exist in shells surrounding a nucleus and can be at any point in space within its respective shell at any given time. Also, atoms are held together by the strong and weak nuclear forces which are orders of magnitude stronger than gravity. Also, an electron's mass is so low the pull probably wouldn't overcome those nuclear forces, but I don't feel like doing the math right now =(

      December 5, 2011 at 10:36 pm |
  64. IrishYank2

    You are the reason why humanity is doomed as a species. Clueless trash.

    December 5, 2011 at 9:43 pm |
  65. caeser

    very tolerant statement.

    December 5, 2011 at 9:42 pm |
  66. SensibleOne

    True, the connotation of this word is bad and thus it should not be used. Nor should your shots at this person. By insulting him/her with terms such as "kracker" and "inbred" you reveal that you are no better than he/she is and therefore just as 'ignorant' as you say he/she is. Also, just because he used a term that is considered racist against the Black race, doesn't mean he is a member of the White race, or a Southerner, or a hillbillie, or anything of the sort. I'm sure we've all heard one member of the Black race call another member of the Black race the "N" word. So, in all reality, he could be trying to boast about the power that the Black race has, though that is unlikely. At any rate, instead of getting hot under the collar because of a derrogitory term, focus on what you came here for: to read an article that obviously capture your interest.

    December 5, 2011 at 9:42 pm |
  67. juice

    ehh..a billion here a billion there, what's the big difference. But then what do I know? I'm just a little star dust.

    December 5, 2011 at 9:41 pm |
  68. David DeForge

    Hey look, It's recess, the 2nd graders are here.

    December 5, 2011 at 9:41 pm |
  69. JC

    Lol redneck Republican voter...!

    December 5, 2011 at 9:37 pm |
  70. Duncan

    CNN Service Agreement Terms, S2.§C.P3, states: "You agree not to upload, post or otherwise transmit any User Content that is offensive to the online community, including blatant expressions of bigotry, racism, abusiveness, vulgarity or profanity."
    ...not that you are capable of understanding, let alone following basic rules of a standard social contract.

    December 5, 2011 at 9:37 pm |
  71. Bill

    Black holes are easy to comprehend. The funny thing is that they seem to be the elemental structure created by the bang, and the galaxies are just the dust gathered round. Understanding the Bang is a little tougher. As our ability to see grows, we realize that there is always more stuff beyond the current observable horizon. ALWAYS. How many other universes like ours are banging away out there? An what construct are they a part of? Then there is time itself-does time only exist because the processes of matter define it in a one time Big Bang event? That's dopey. I recall that wise men once thought that molds and fungus were the products of "spontaneous generation". It takes time (hah!) but we will learn...fun stuff

    December 5, 2011 at 9:36 pm |
    • Jaysun

      One theory, that I am a fan of is that the largest black hole of our universe is at the center of where the big bang started. As if a giant supernova exploded and formed the biggest black hole in our Universe. And on the other side of this enormous hole is a completely OTHER universe.

      December 5, 2011 at 11:25 pm |
  72. Querisma

    Grow up!

    December 5, 2011 at 9:36 pm |
  73. timerider

    Welcome to his level.

    December 5, 2011 at 9:34 pm |
  74. Rod C. Venger

    lol

    December 5, 2011 at 9:29 pm |
  75. The Real Truth

    Touche bro!

    December 5, 2011 at 9:26 pm |
  76. Rod C. Venger

    If one is looking for the missing mass of the universe, one needn't concoct "dark mass". The missing mass is hiding in plain sight, inside billions of black holes. Gee, it all makes sense, huh?

    December 5, 2011 at 9:26 pm |
    • Rob

      That depends on whether astronomers have already accounted for all that mass or not...but its good thinking man!

      December 5, 2011 at 9:35 pm |
    • David DeForge

      Um, no.

      December 5, 2011 at 9:39 pm |
    • JoeJoeJoeJoe

      scientists account for the mass of black holes through gravitational lensing, if I'm not mistaken

      December 5, 2011 at 10:14 pm |
  77. The Real Truth

    You may not drive fast, but that is racist.

    December 5, 2011 at 9:26 pm |
  78. Lori

    But is it a Super Massive Black Hole?

    December 5, 2011 at 9:16 pm |
    • morph147

      yes. they are.

      December 5, 2011 at 10:20 pm |
    • Umb

      maybe not making the catchiest music though ;D

      December 5, 2011 at 10:41 pm |
    • Black hole sun

      Yes!!!!

      December 5, 2011 at 10:47 pm |
  79. Skeptic

    "Black holes can make sounds in the silence of space when their gravitational waves hit the Earth, Levin said."

    Prove it! Does a fallen tree in the forest make a crashing noise if no one is there to hear it? Oh! I'm sorry. You must have ridden by in your 1950's recovered space craft from the New Mexico desert and heard it all personally. Also It's my understanding Black Holes suck everything in, so how would there be outward gravity waves?

    I too think space is amazing, but it just cracks me up how some people claim to be so called experts on the matter; yet their feet have never left planet Earth.

    December 5, 2011 at 9:16 pm |
    • David DeForge

      Do you sit up at night and think of dumb things to say?

      December 5, 2011 at 9:39 pm |
    • Tarkin

      The gravitational waves are not technically from within the black hole, but from the matter eddying and swarming about toward the black hole. The matter pouring in produces waves of energy bouncing off the interactions within the crowded stream. It’s much like the steam bouncing off extremely hot water rushing out of shower head. Never making it to the drain it to the drain, but drifting across the expanse to the mirror on the other side of the bathroom.

      December 5, 2011 at 9:40 pm |
    • IrishYank2

      Gee Skeptic, thank you so much for dropping a deuce all over the theory. So, if you would please, professor, offer a theory that better explains the existence of certain phenomena in the universe when all you have is quantum theory (remember, it's a THEORY until proven). So, with this, you are what we call at my work a pigeon. You come in through the window flapping everywhere and cr*pping all over everything, then fly back out. No solution, just, as your screen name indicates, skepticism and doubt. You are what makes scientific theory extremely frustrating, as you would prefer to negate an idea than offer your own substantiated theory. Clueless.

      December 5, 2011 at 9:40 pm |
    • Pacman

      This is the sound knowledge makes when it strikes an inpenetrable wall of ignorance.

      December 5, 2011 at 9:41 pm |
      • Alejandro

        Well put.

        December 5, 2011 at 10:12 pm |
    • youremorons

      lol, they have proven it, frequencies and wavelengths have been recorded idiot. the black holes gravity waves are shot out in intense bursts of energy called quasars all the energy it's absorbing is immense, and eventually explodes out. hence why there is sound. so mr skeptic, maybe if you did some looking into or hell even turned on your tv (yes even science channel goes in depth on this subject) then you'd be more educated. or is that a bad thing?

      December 5, 2011 at 9:42 pm |
    • Rob

      Umm, if you learn a bit of physics you might understand more of what they mean. You don't need to leave the planet to learn these things; we have math and physics. Just because there was no one to hear the noise a tree made when it falls in the forest, it doesn't mean the event did not cause waves of air to be pushed outwards radially (sound waves). I mean, thats like saying that you are looking for an object in a dark room where the only light in the room is in a small spot in the corner, and assuming the object is not in the room simply because its not in the spot where the light is hitting.

      December 5, 2011 at 9:45 pm |
    • R

      Being good skeptic and being dumb is too different thing. I am not expert on these matter. However, one should listen and try to understand completely before making such idiotic comment.

      December 5, 2011 at 9:52 pm |
    • CSher

      Gravity doesn't suck itself. Gravity waves are not pulled in by black hole. About the only thing that isn't.

      December 5, 2011 at 10:27 pm |
  80. steve

    if anyone is actually interested in science: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-16040655

    December 5, 2011 at 7:06 pm |
  81. Ted

    "targeted the biggest galaxies in the nearby universe because the biggest galaxies are most likely to host the most massive black holes."
    -–Didn't realize there was more than one universe

    December 5, 2011 at 6:47 pm |
    • 4158

      its a theory not yet proven. i think its part of the m theory or string theory. some m theory physicist believe in a multi verse. i am a little rusty on this but ive seen a few the universe episode that talk about a giant membrane that creates universes and alternate realities. but if you want to know more watch the universe by the history channel.

      December 5, 2011 at 8:57 pm |
    • Phil

      I think they mean "the nearby universe" as in "the part of the universe that is nearby" kind of like "the immediate neighborhood."

      December 5, 2011 at 9:15 pm |
    • stevekasian

      In referencing "the nearby universe", the author is speaking of the portion of the known universe nearest us. Only a complete dolt would assume otherwise. lol

      December 5, 2011 at 9:17 pm |
    • mdmooser

      "targeted the biggest galaxies in the nearby universe" simply means what it says, rather than target galaxies in a distant region of the known universe they have "targeted the biggest galaxies in the nearby universe". Only one universe as the term goes but probably a billion subsets, portals, endless dimensions, wormholes, whatever in it, so go think on some of that, that's the non sarcastic real mind blower.

      December 5, 2011 at 9:20 pm |
    • michael

      Stupid is as stupid writes........what a tart.

      December 5, 2011 at 9:30 pm |
    • JC

      It means a part of Universe that is nearby. A 4th grader can understand that.

      December 5, 2011 at 9:36 pm |
  82. Love everyone

    Sounds like the unjust hatred you have for others.

    "Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned."

    Grow up.

    December 5, 2011 at 6:26 pm |
    • Rod C. Venger

      Unjust? Says you!

      December 5, 2011 at 9:30 pm |
  83. Bernardwsley

    I thought those are called the IRS?

    December 5, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
  84. DeathTexas

    SO WHAT WHO CARE!!!

    December 5, 2011 at 4:48 pm |
    • David DeForge

      You for got the 'S' in your witty reply.

      December 5, 2011 at 9:41 pm |
  85. Kc

    Woohoo God made cool black holes !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    December 5, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
  86. wow

    i click this page thinking there would good educated responses, but its filled a bunch egg white zombies with ignorance pouring out the high five to the face awards belong to this room

    December 5, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
    • MrWright62

      Your lack of a complete thought/proper grammar isnt helping either......

      December 5, 2011 at 4:52 pm |
      • David DeForge

        You beat me to it.

        December 5, 2011 at 9:42 pm |
    • timerider

      How would you ever have any idea of what color people are by what they post?

      That is racism at it's best.

      December 5, 2011 at 9:50 pm |
      • timerider

        That was meant to be a joke, but I'm not that funny, so I felt the need to explain.

        I'm going to put my stand-up career on hold for now.

        December 5, 2011 at 9:59 pm |
  87. octopus

    "He's working on a Hollywood movie right now with Steven Spielberg," Ma says. "Thorne says if you were to fall into a black hole, the difference between the gravity near your feet and near your head would be so powerful that you'd be torn apart."

    I figure the movie will be very short then.

    December 5, 2011 at 3:32 pm |
  88. octopus

    "Using... McDonald observatory..."

    I prefer Burger King observatory.

    December 5, 2011 at 3:25 pm |
    • JC

      not funny....tried in vain,

      December 5, 2011 at 9:38 pm |
  89. here's a novel idea

    anybody wanna' see my big black hole?

    December 5, 2011 at 3:22 pm |
    • IrishYank2

      Nope.

      December 5, 2011 at 9:44 pm |
  90. xdougx

    I personally believe the big freeze hypotheses is correct because Hawking showed that even black holes dissipate through radiation after a massive amount of time.

    December 5, 2011 at 2:14 pm |
  91. k

    My yo-yo theory is that given infinite time and gravity that everything ultimatly gets sucked into the biggest blackhole...at which point it implodes into the "Big Bang" theory...

    December 5, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
    • pulsars

      I agree – all the matter in the universe comes together in a "gang bang" to make a "big bang".

      December 5, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
    • dudley0415

      K – What is the amount of matter that can be condensed, and to what density, before it all explodes again into another universe?

      The Big Bang Theory suggests that matter was made from non-matter, yes – that there was no matter, then boom, there was matter? Isn't this how it goes?

      December 5, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
      • skeet

        Yes your right in a way... but they still dont know if the "Big Bang" is really what happend. Yea they put time in reverse to see where it all came from but they still cant see back to the instant that it started. The best explation that i have found so far to tell us where everthing came from would be the big bang but i still dont feel that everything came from nothing. I think inflation is a load of crap and its just a theory made up to support the big bang but something that has no evidence to support it. Im more of a fan of the "Multiverse" idea (not the soap bubble idea) but i feel that explains so much of the unexplainable things we find every day.

        December 5, 2011 at 3:32 pm |
      • Phil

        "It just doesn't matter! It just doesn't matter!" Ref: Meatballs; w/Bill Murray.... LMFAO!!!!

        December 6, 2011 at 12:23 am |
  92. pulsars

    "Some experts suspect black holes may be doors that lead to other galaxies or even alternative universes.." – Are these experts like the "Necromongers" that were trying to kill "Riddick"? I hope not, I'm not ready to go to the "Underverse".

    December 5, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
    • skeet

      The multiverse explains a lot of stuff that they cant explain knowing the universe that we know today. Worm holes, black holes and many more crazy weird things out there can all be explained if the multiverse is true

      December 5, 2011 at 3:35 pm |
      • JoeJoeJoeJoe

        Wormholes are only hypothetical, there is no evidence of their existence. Black holes can be explained using standard relativistic physics, no need for 'multiverses'. The multiverse idea exists almost exclusively as a popular science concept and does not make any experimentally testable predictions and is therefore not actually a scientific theory.

        December 5, 2011 at 10:25 pm |
  93. dudley0415

    There is a very simple book written by Azimov that will take you through the elemental processes necessary to form black holes. After absorbing this it is much easier for the novice to begin to read some of Hawkings books on the subject and to retain some of the most fascinating parts of the process!

    December 5, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
  94. Dr Trollworth

    Maybe the universe is actually infinitely years old and it is a cycle of black holes getting bigger and bigger and combining until everything is one giant black hole and then another big bang occurs. Then lots of things happen until the black holes condense once again into another giant black hole, then another big bang. If so, I wonder how many big bangs have already occurred. 60? 400? Infinity billion?

    But since we all know the universe is only 6000 years old, clearly this is all hogwash.

    December 5, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
    • dudley0415

      Dr Troll,

      You may have forgotten that the universe is expanding and Accelerating, and that the scientists in charge of all knowledge have recently discovered that there is actually 3 times the amount of matter that was originally thought, and upon what they based all recent theoretical finding with regards to dark matter and to a large extent, quantum mechanics.

      In their search for a Single Answer to All Things, they have even suggested that man as a species may not have the intellectual capacity to understand precisely what is going on out there.

      Summary – they don't know what they don't know – – and are the most dangerous of all: those who spout theoretical findings as truth before it is absolutely proven.

      December 5, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
      • Dr Trollworth

        I knew it was expanding, but is it actually accelerating outward? I just checked wikipedia. It agrees with you. So my theory would contradict some of what we know. Hmmm... I could make up some more theories to try to justify my first one. Perhaps the universe wraps around itself, or maybe it's spherical or something... or... wizards...

        December 5, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
      • glenn robert

        No they are not dangerous. A quest for knowledge won't kill you but religion and faith will.

        December 5, 2011 at 2:38 pm |
      • Sean

        @ dudley0415
        When exactly was the last time you heard of a theoretical physicist, mathematician or astronomer pushing for a new law to censor the lives of others based on their belief in said ‘truth’?

        Theists on the other hand……

        December 6, 2011 at 11:38 am |
    • marc

      in sixbillionyears [that we know of] i would say more.

      December 5, 2011 at 11:33 pm |
  95. Carl Stilwell

    Too big to fail?

    December 5, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
    • MrWright62

      ah ha! we all know how that story ends......

      December 5, 2011 at 4:57 pm |
    • Truth

      Too big to not suck. Literally.

      December 5, 2011 at 6:02 pm |
  96. Dr Trollworth

    This article has some typos. It turns out that one of the two most massive black holes was actually discovered in between the ears of Kim Kardashian. The other one was discovered on Michelle Duggar in a different location.

    December 5, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
    • Truth

      You forgot the black woman with 15 fatherless children who claims, "Someone gonna pay for all of us!"

      December 5, 2011 at 6:03 pm |
      • The Real Truth

        Wow, how funny and original. Your really are the sharpest tool in the shed. NOT! I am not saying you drive fast, but that is still racist.

        December 5, 2011 at 9:24 pm |
  97. Rozenritter

    If black holes were "doors that lead to other galaxies or even alternative universes", they would not grow. All black holes would have the same mass since the matter would be transported to another location. Unless they are thinking that a black hole would grow to such extension that it would create a rupture in brane and cause a bigbang in another universe :)

    December 5, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
    • Alejandro

      Maybe when a black hole forms it marks the creation of another universe. Perhaps our big bang happened the instant a black hole formed in a parent universe. The expansion and cooling of our universe would manifest as something like hawking radiation coming from the 'parent' black hole until our universe encounters heat death and the 'parent' black hole evaporates.
      BTW. A lot of name calling and personal attacks on these discussion boards, maybe some of you can find other ways to take out your aggression or seek help addressing the root of the problem.

      December 5, 2011 at 10:38 pm |
      • George

        My thoughts exactly – at least to the point a black hole is where one universe touches another – such an event would bend space time with such energy and would further explain where it goes on the other side where colliding universe' continue to multiply (big bangs everywhere) like we originated.

        December 6, 2011 at 6:28 pm |
  98. Greg

    Fantastic stuff... I wonder if this changes the thoughts about dark matter – given the mass tied up in black holes of this size, is there reason to think that dark matter might just be explaining these enormous black holes instead?

    December 5, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
    • Sonic10158

      I have heard that dark matter doesn't exist and was just the result of physicsists (sorry can't spell that word for some reason) mis-calculating something

      December 5, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
      • dudley0415

        Sonic, you are correct. they miscalculated the amount of mass in the known universe, and were off by a factor of 3 – – there is 3 Times the amount of matter that they previously calculated. In the words of a scientist from the JPL, 'This just make a hel1 of a mess out of everything.'

        they have lots and lots of recalculating, theorizing, experimentation and etc etc to do before they can quantify anything again with regards to an expanding and accelerating universe, a cyclic Big Bang, dark matter and dark matter theory and a host of other things.

        December 5, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
      • Sean

        I can't help but read about the physicists saying something does exist only to come back and say they miscalculated and that their new numbers are right.

        My mind immediately jumped to that Christian Radio guy (Harold Camping) talking about the end of the world and how when it came and went without anything happening, he "miscalculated" the numbers he extrapolated from the bible, but his new date(s) were now right and to prepare for the end (that never seems to come, no matter how many times he's wrong).

        In the end, we really don't know much about anything, and are only guessing, whether it's religion or science.

        December 6, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
      • Uranal

        Sean:
        The thing about science is it is not absolute, the thought process is always evolving through experimentation and testing. It allows for change and forward motion. Religion on the other hand is absolute and therefore stagnant.

        December 6, 2011 at 2:54 pm |
  99. Steve

    Chung-Pei Ma is a true Hard Working American!

    December 5, 2011 at 11:50 am |
  100. john doe

    can we send our politicians for a joyride?

    December 5, 2011 at 11:25 am |
    • dale

      I was thinking the very same thing

      December 5, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
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