A pair of pioneering astronomers revealed Tuesday how they used a supercomputer to show that a nearby black hole is vastly more massive than scientists ever imagined.
The black hole at the heart of the relatively close Messier 87 Galaxy (M87) weighs in at 6.4 billion times the mass of our Sun, according to US astrophysicist Karl Gebhardt and Germany’s Jens Thomas, who say it’s the largest ever measured with a reliable technique.
The super they used is TACC’s Lonestar system
Gebhardt and Thomas’s study, to be published later this year in the Astrophysical Journal, aims to clock the mass of Galaxy M87’s central black hole by also modeling the galaxy’s “dark halo,” a phenomenon that extends past a galaxy’s visible structure and contains the ethereal but weighty dark matter.
“In the past, we have always considered the dark halo to be significant, but we did not have the computing resources to explore it as well,” said Gebhardt as he lauded the supercomputer’s ability.
The Lonestar’s mass model for the M87 black hole came out several times the weight than any previous estimate, a result they did not expect at all.