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One of the biggest known black holes discovered

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

Source: Indian Express

Context: Astronomers have discovered one of the biggest black holes ever found, using gravitational lensing.


About Gravitational Lensing:

  • Gravitational lensing is the name given to the phenomenon where a foreground object—a galaxy or a black hole—bends the light from a more distant object behind it, magnifying it in the process.


How was the discovery made?

  • The researchers used supercomputer simulations that simulated light from a faraway galaxy travelling through the Universe hundreds of thousands of times. Each of the simulations had a black hole of a different mass, changing the light’s journey to Earth.
  • When the researchers included an ultra-massive black hole in one of the simulations, the path taken by the light exactly matched the path seen in actual images captured by the Hubble Space Telescope.
  • This helped them discover the ultra-massive black hole, over 30 billion times the mass of our Sun, in the foreground galaxy.


This new approach taken by the researchers could make it possible to study inactive black holes in distant galaxies, which is not currently possible with other existing techniques.