Black holes can theoretically be any size, but there are different types of black holes that can form from different processes. The smallest type of black holes are called primordial black holes, which are thought to have formed in the early universe and can be as small as a single atom.
Stellar black holes are formed from the collapse of massive stars and can range in size from a few times the mass of the sun up to several tens of times the mass of the sun. Supermassive black holes, on the other hand, are found at the centers of galaxies and can range in mass from millions to billions of times the mass of the sun.
Abell 1201 has an ultramassive black hole larger than 30 billion suns
Astronomers have made a remarkable discovery – an ultramassive black hole, which may be the largest black hole ever found, with a mass of 30 billion suns, according to space.com. The black hole sits at the center of a distant galaxy that is located hundreds of millions of light-years away from our own galaxy, the Milky Way. The black hole is also located in the galaxy cluster known as Abell 1201.
The size of this black hole is truly astonishing, as it dwarfs the typical supermassive black holes that are usually found at the centers of galaxies and can have masses ranging from a few million to a few billion times that of the sun.
James Nightingale, the lead author of the new study, explained:
Most of the biggest black holes that we know about are in an active state, where matter pulled in close to the black hole heats up and releases energy in the form of light, X-rays, and other radiation,
However, gravitational lensing makes it possible to study inactive black holes, something not currently possible in distant galaxies. This approach could let us detect many more black holes beyond our local universe and reveal how these exotic objects evolved further back in cosmic time.
The discovery of the massive black hole was made possible by a technique called gravitational lensing, which makes use of the gravity of massive objects to bend and magnify the light from more distant objects. In this case, the foreground galaxy acted like a magnifying glass, allowing astronomers to see the background galaxy in greater detail. By carefully analyzing the light from the background galaxy, astronomers were able to determine the presence of the ultramassive black hole at the center of the foreground galaxy.