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Press Release 11-254
Sleeping Giants Discovered

Largest black holes ever measured found in "nearby" galaxies

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Illustration showing the stellar environment around a black hole of about 10 billion solar masses.

Artist's conceptualization of the stellar environment around a black hole of about 10 billion solar masses. The velocity of stars in orbit (and close to) the black hole help to determine its mass.

Credit: Gemini Observatory/AURA illustration by Lynette Cook


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UC-Berkeley astronomers discover the largest black holes ever detected. NSFs Lisa-Joy Zgorski moderates a press conference featuring Chung-Pei Ma, professor of astrophysics, at the University of California, Berkeley and Nicholas McConnell, a Berkeley grad student and first author of the paper that describes this exciting discovery in the December 8th issue of the journal Nature.

Credit: National Science Foundation

 

Image of two giant elliptical galaxies obtained by the Gemini Observatory.

An image of two giant elliptical galaxies obtained by the Gemini Observatory in March of 2008.

Credit: Gemini Observatory


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Image showing a collection of galaxies which are part of a much larger cluster of galaxies.

This collection of galaxies is part of a much larger cluster of galaxies (Abell 1367). From bottom left to top right the diagonal of galaxies includes NGC 3837, NGC 3842 (the large elliptical), NGC 3841, NGC 3845, NGC 3844 and NGC 3840 (the spiral at the very top right). All of these galaxies are part of the Coma supercluster and are around 270 million light years away.

The large ellipical, NGC 3842, is considered the ravenous carnivore of the group since it has devoured other small galaxies in the past. The entire region is filled with a common galactic envelope of gas that emits both radio and x-ray light.

The bluish edge-on galaxy, UGC 6697, adds much needed color to the collection. It is probably a (peculiar) spiral galaxy that is undergoing a period of active starformation. There appears to be a hint of activity near the nucleus of the galaxy that is not unlike the much closer M82.

Credit: NRAO


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