Supermassive Blackholes

In: Science

Submitted By scarface82
Words 2334
Pages 10
11/09/2011

Supermassive Black Holes were first theorized to exist in the 1790’s. John Michell of England and Pierre LaPlace of France independently suggested the existence of an "invisible star." Michell and LaPlace calculated the mass and size — which is now called the
"event horizon" — that an object needs in order to have an escape velocity greater than the speed of light. In 1967 John Wheeler, an American theoretical physicist, applied the term "black hole" to these collapsed objects.
It wasn’t until the early 1970’s that an intense an intense X-ray source was found in the constellation Cygnus called Cygnus X-1. As the years passed, in the spring of 1972, Cygnus X-1 was identified with a star known by its classification number HDE226868 (which is a radio source). Astronomers have since found convincing evidence for a supermassive black hole in the center of the giant elliptical galaxy M87, as well as in several other galaxies.
The discovery is based on velocity measurements of a whirlpool of hot gas orbiting the black hole. In 1994, Hubble Space Telescope data produced an unprecedented measurement of the mass of an unseen object at the center of M87. Based on the kinetic energy of the material whirling about the center (as in Wheeler's dance, see
Question 4 above), the object is about 3 billion times the mass of our Sun and appears to be concentrated into a space smaller than our solar system.

A supermassive black hole is the largest type of black hole in a galaxy, in the order of hundreds of thousands to billions of solar masses. Most, and possibly all galaxies, including the Milky
Way, are believed to contain supermassive black holes at their centers. Supermassive black holes have properties which distinguish them from lower-mass classifications:

The average density of a supermassive black…...

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