back to article One black hole, three galaxies, four BEELION solar masses – found by accident

Astro-boffins commissioning part of the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) array have incidentally spotted a monster 3.8-billion-solar-masses black hole created in a three-way galactic collision. In a paper accepted for publication at the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, the CSIRO boffins, …

  1. Harry the Bastard

    solar masses?

    i make it about 1768 billion yottacats

    though it is quite early, so i may be mistaken

    but either way it suggests the need for a few prefixes beyond yotta, perhaps an opportunity for el reg to lead the way?

    1. Captain DaFt

      Re: solar masses?

      " it suggests the need for a few prefixes beyond yotta,"

      Yotta - denoting a factor of 10^24 or 1 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000.

      I propose "Hella", 10^25 or 1 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000.

      Anyone care to go higher?

  2. MrDamage

    Because El Reg refuses to use standard units.

    562 km/sec = 4855680000017.28 Linguine per fortnight, or 18.7458% of the maximum velocity of a sheep in a vacuum.

    3.8 billion solar masses = For some reason, trying to convert this into Jordan scale jubs just resulted in 80085 on my calculator.

    1. Graham Marsden
      Happy

      @MrDamage - Re: Because El Reg refuses to use standard units.

      My calculator makes it 58008618

    2. Daggerchild Silver badge

      Re: Because El Reg refuses to use standard units.

      Hrm. To reproduce your calculations I need to know how the sheep got in, and whether it was a dyson.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Simple question

    I ask again, and its a very very simple question. Why one universe? Why would any event that can create one universe not create 2? or 3? or N universes?

    If our universe isn't the first, then matter space and time existed before the big bang.

    And if you had matter, space and time for a long time.... then how come everything isn't in one giant black hole? If matter can never escape, and time has been infinite, then why isn't everything mopped up by a black hole?

    The answer to why blackholes haven't consumed everything is no longer "because there hasn't been time", because there's been plenty of time. Plenty of time, matter and space!

    And what if the things we can see is just the bit of our universe within the range of the speed of light, and the other universes what would their emissions look like? Wouldn't it be stretched by the gravity of all those other universes, and then re-accelerated by our gravity? In other words wouldn't it be in a narrow range largely red-shifted (a lot) by the mass of those other galaxies, then blue shifted (a little) by our own mass? So wouldn't you have it squished into a narrow band? Wouldn't it look like cosmic background radiation?

    So if black holes are not the end game for matter, then they must be able to eject their matter. So what might a universe sized black hole going bang look like?

    A big bang perhaps?

    Haven't we done the classic mistake of religion.... to think we're special, unique? The one and only universe? Haven't we built all our equations to explain the world on this assumption? Just like medieval maths, made insanely complex explanations of how the planets go loop-the-loop because they wouldn't accept the Earth wasn't the center of everything. And when they finally accepted the Earth revolves around the Sun, all those looping maths equations were discarded. They were correct, they described the motion, they just didn't help the understanding.

    And what have we done? Decided space is created as our universe expands outwards??? How is that not the same as the medieval loop-the-loop nonsense?

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: Simple question

      Metaphysical musings and what-ifs about unobservable events may be fun (especially if had with a selection of quality beers) but are not Science.

      RSW! (Read some Wittgenstein)

      1. eesiginfo
        Big Brother

        Re: Metaphysical musings and what-ifs about unobservable events may be fun

        > ..... but not science <

        I agree, but there apparently exists a fine line.

        Prediction through calculation produces unobservable events or conditions of existence.

        I think it's more a case of 'knowing your science forum'.

        I was recently looking at Physics forums QM section.

        A poster asked for confirmation that, in the two photon entagled experiment, one photon would change its state if the other photon changed its state...... regardless of distance.

        This was confirmed by a top member.

        So the OP concluded that "communication outside the realm of space and time exists".

        This conclusion is highly logical..... how can one photon 100 light years away react to the changed state of the other.

        Result..... the thread was immediately closed.

        Yet on the very next thread, all sorts of theoretical musings were presented on 'what is observation'.

        Many of which appeared ridiculous.

        Yet no complaints.

        From this, it is clear that 'discussion of science' has boundaries, that change with mob, or tribal values.

        You need to know where you are at, and what bollocks the rest of the chaps are prepared to put up with :D

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Simple question

        @"Metaphysical musings etc."

        You didn't answer my question. Why one universe? Which *uniquely* would something happen once and once only. The rest follows from this single question. Multiple universes= blackholes are not the end game = blackholes must eject the matter. If they ejected the matter slowly it would be sucked back in, so some sort of big bang event.

        Have we observed such a big bang event?

        @"what-ifs about unobservable events"

        Unobservable? In what sense? the pull from universes outside our universe would show as acceleration no? We've observed that. If the background radiation is compressed red-shift then you should be able to detect absorption bands in it. i.e. observable. Big bang event? Observed.

    2. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: Simple question

      Why one universe? Why would any event that can create one universe not create 2? or 3? or N universes?

      That would depend on your definition of 'universe'. There are several.

      And what if the things we can see is just the bit of our universe within the range of the speed of light

      It is. It's what we call the observable universe and is the simplest of the definitions of possible types of universes. There are other universes out there, with the exact same qualities as ours, but they're positioned so that with the expansion of space their light cone will never intersect with ours and hasn't since hyperinflation.

      Haven't we done the classic mistake of religion.... to think we're special, unique?

      No, we haven't, and the idea that we're not goes as far back as Newton.

      I ask again

      Can I respectfully suggest you do some background reading before repeating your question?

      1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

        @Rich11

        I can construct solutions to the Einstein Field Equations which bridge between causally disconnected patches. Or those patches could be brought into contact again if space contracted superluminally. Neither can be completely ruled out, although both are very unlikely.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Simple question

        @"That would depend on your definition of 'universe'. There are several."

        Several definitions? Or several universes? I don't think you were unclear about what I mean by universe.

        @"It is. It's what we call the observable universe and is the simplest of the definitions of possible types of universes."

        I mean: N big bangs causing N universes to be created. Whether observed or not observed makes no difference to their existence.

        @"No, we haven't,"

        Our planet is not the center of our solar system. Our universe is not the one and only universe. Our big bang is not the one off special once and only only once thing. Citing the cosmological principle is not an answer.

        @"Can I respectfully suggest you do some background reading before repeating your question?"

        Perhaps if I flip the question, you can face that. Why *not* one electron? Why not *one* anything else. Science couldn't exist if things weren't repeatable, the whole basis of science says "NOT ONCE"!

        So why one big bang, and one universe.

        And once you accept that there's lots of universes and lots of big bangs, the consequences follow, black holes must eject their matter, being one such consequences.

        1. John Mangan

          Re: Simple question

          Okay I'm definitely not an expert but:

          There is a fundamental problem that universe is an archaic term for when we thought what we could see was all there was. That is no longer the case but we still call what we can see (by whatever physically allowed means) the universe. it is, by definition, the only one we can 'know' about.

          There are, as you have surmised, several possibilities for other 'universes'. An incomplete list includes:

          - universes beyond the observable horizon. There are some theories which allow some inferences to be made from movements of matter within our observable uinverse.

          - multiple universes existing in various branes in the multi-dimensional M-theory

          - multiple universes generated by (or causing indirectly) quantum weirdness (take your pick).

          . . . . and others.

          You have selected a specific sub-set of universes that you are happy with and arrived at a (possibly valid) conclusion based on that alone.

          As one of the other posters alluded to there are very many books, programmes and web articles on these subjects and you need to do some investigation of your own before you can ask a question that others will find sufficiently well formed/defined to provide an answer to.

          I don't want to come off as patronising because I am only too well aware how short my knowledge in this area falls but (I hope I'm not being too presumptious here) the general tenor of your question implies that you are not.

          I probably should post this anonymously . . . .

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Simple question

            @"You have selected a specific sub-set of universes that you are happy with and arrived at a (possibly valid) conclusion based on that alone."

            No, I'm saying, if you want to define a theory of the universe and it assumes ONE'ness, then the theory needs to explain the one-ness.

            Why is one-ness special? Because its unique in science. Sure you can label things to be unique, but you can label 2 things to be unique too. Your 'Bob the mutant turtle' might be unique to you, but that's labelling, the same mutation can occur and you can call that turtle bob too.

            Zero isn't special, something can be impossible. N is science repeatability, given the same conditions the same thing can occur. But ONE-ness?

            So your theory of parallel universes can be zero or N but if its some handy integer, you'd better explain in the theory why the same conditions, only a different numeric integer label, prevent it happening repeatedly.

            @"As one of the other posters alluded to there are very many books, programmes and web articles on these subjects and you need to do some investigation of your own before you can ask a question that others will find sufficiently well formed/defined to provide an answer to."

            No, there's no proof of one-ness, or even a theory as to how such a thing could occur once. You didn't cite it, nor did anyone else. Those are 'shut-up' phrases. As if you can run away from the question.

            1. cbars

              Re: Simple question

              My god! Don't feed the trolls!

              1) Stupid questions reiterated don't make them valid (E.g. Why aren't there purple teapots on my legs instead of feet. Why?)

              2) Go read some f***ing physics textbooks, specifically cosmology, before polluting this nice comment thread with your meaningless existential musings, AC.

              3) I've classified your question as stupid because you've posted AC, I'd never ridicule a genuine question but I suspect the guise of anonymity implies the troll.

              Oh, I fed the troll... Shit. What a hypocrite

        2. Captain DaFt

          Re: Simple question

          "black holes must eject their matter, being one such consequences."

          Current theory says they do. Look up "Hawking Radiation".

    3. frank ly Silver badge

      Re: Simple question

      Time in any other universes doesn't matter in our universe. I don't have enough space to explain why.

    4. John Mangan

      Re: Simple question

      It's a simple question but the terms are poorly defined.

    5. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Simple question

      "Why one universe?"

      We're really going to have to sit down and review the fundamental meaning of the prefix 'uni'.

      1. wayne 8

        Re: Uni-*

        And yet uni-versities have proliferated and the term is applied to small scale education venues.

        What is called the universe, may not be the only one.

        No time and space before the big bang. Infinite energy. Our Big Bang. Still infinite energy. Why not another big bang.

    6. Esme

      Re: Simple question

      @AC - a lot, maybe most people that get interested in cosmology think along those lines at some point. Some of those then go on to read up on what's been found out this far and the science behind the current theories - which answer many of your points.

      The problem you're experiencing is that you've decided that YOU'RE unique in having those thoughts, a mistake that lots of people make now and then - we are, after all, only human. The ones who've wondered and then gone on to attack the issues raised by those thoughts in a methodical way are scientists. (shrugs) be a scientist and do the research or be not a scientist and make wild speculations only - the choice is yours.

    7. TechnicalBen Silver badge

      Re: Simple question

      Simple answer: Logic.

      We can state the observables, we can infer the things inferred. Everything else? Does not "exist" by definition.

      Especially if the current observation is the explanation, then an alternative is not the observation and not correct.

      Add to that, by definition a thing can only happen once. To be able to define it or observe it twice, it needs something to be different, IE time or position. For example, consider the game of noughts and crosses/tic tac toe. And the possible results. Consider what would happen if we had every possible combination of plays, vs one play. How do we define or know if one of our random combinations is the beginning, middle or end or a current game? When we understand that, we understand why and how the universe is bound by time and it's direction.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Simple question

        @"We can state the observables, we can infer the things inferred. Everything else? Does not "exist" by definition."

        Before we detected electrons did they exist? If no, then how did our first detector detect something that did not exist? Ergo, things exist whether we observe them or not. We are made of electrons, hence electrons even existed before we existed, and before we 'inferred' them.

        The act of 'inferring' something, or 'observing' something does not create the something.

        @X = "Add to that, by definition a thing can only happen once. To be able to define it or observe it twice, it needs something to be different, IE time or position. "

        A valid point, but since I'm suggesting N universes from N big bangs at N times and N locations, a moot point. I'm further suggesting that the big bang is the end game for a black hole.

        1. Notas Badoff

          Re: Simple question

          Please go back to the phys.org discussions threads.

          After being pleased at another nice science news site besides sciencedaily.com, I made the mistake of reading a couple article comments threads. It was as entertaining as loading the LHC with trucks and anti-trucks and seeing what spurts out at meeting points. Oh dear, hard science attracts soft brains!

        2. Named coward

          Re: Simple question

          "I'm suggesting N universes from N big bangs at N times and N locations"

          as long as 0 < N <= infinity. The part that you seem to be missing is that we cannot observe/verify/prove either way. We can only "see" up to a certain distance, beyond that it could be all unicorns and dragons.

          "I'm further suggesting that the big bang is the end game for a black hole." - That's called a "big bounce" scenario

        3. TechnicalBen Silver badge

          Re: AC Electrons and a Big Bang.

          I think you have missed the "observation" definition. By "observation" we mean effected by, or communicated with. So a particle, wave or system that has an effect on us. Electrons have always effected us, we have always observed them and their effect. But recently we have seen things more directly, like electron clouds and individual particles. Before then, we were all made of atoms and particles. Electrons don't need us to observe them for them to exist. Electrons are observed, they effect things.

          So I agree it does not create it, however logic can only dictate objects or things we can observer (things that can effect us). We cannot state or theorise real things that have no effect on anything. We can theorise those as fictional things, but they cannot exist in reality.

          As for black holes, it may be more simple or more complex. For example, black holes are already good candidates for being themselves white holes. Just as a river both has water flow into it, and out of it.

          TL:DR version in simplicity and poetry: They is one thing we all know to be a fact. Existence. The rest is just detail.

    8. Captain DaFt

      Re: Simple question

      "Why one universe?"

      Simple answer: It's all we can know given current knowledge.

      Even if our universe had a detectable edge, any type of probe we sent beyond it would by definition be a part of our universe, and would still only relay back data about our universe.

  4. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Pint

    These black holes are fucking bastards

    Imagine what you could do with 4 billion solar masses of prime quality matter.

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: These black holes are fucking bastards

      Were you planning on taking it anywhere?

    2. Esme

      Re: These black holes are fucking bastards

      @Destroy All Monsters - that Dyson bloke'll want to hoover it all up and build a ruddy great bally thing with it that no normal person can afford, if we let him.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: These black holes are fucking bastards

      "Imagine what you could do with 4 billion solar masses of prime quality matter."

      Especially if it's nicely arranged carbon matter. That would fit on a necklace. Might make the Missus happy for a few weeks.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    gender

    Shouldn't Lisa be a bofinette?

    1. Hollerithevo Silver badge

      Re: gender

      Why? Won't 'boffin' do?

    2. Captain DaFt

      Re: gender

      Nah, a bofinette is what you use to snare boffins. :)

  6. Little Mouse
    Boffin

    Tipping point?

    Has anyone checked to make sure that we're not being slowly sucked downwards into this unstoppable galactic plughole?

    We need to build a giant needle-shaped rocket so that we sew the black hole shut, Abellard Snazz style.

  7. James 51 Silver badge
    Boffin

    The universe, it never fails to surprise.

    1. Andy A

      “There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable.

      There is another theory which states that this has already happened.”

      © Douglas Adams

      1. Hollerithevo Silver badge

        More worrying

        Are we close to compiling the nine billion names of God?

        1. Mark 85 Silver badge

          Re: More worrying

          Are we close to compiling the nine billion names of God?

          Probably closer to having that done than figuring out what The Question is for the answer to be "42"

          1. swm Bronze badge

            Re: More worrying

            What is 6 times 9?

    2. TeeCee Gold badge
      Alert

      All well and good as long as one of the surprising things doesn't happen in our bit of it.....

  8. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
    Pint

    More important question...

    Why the snorkel on the truck? Isn't the dish array in a desert?

    QotD "Why is it in a sheep paddock?"

    1. Lars Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: More important question...

      "Why the snorkel on the truck?". Less dust?.

  9. Alan Sharkey

    Simple?

    "It's just a simple high school equation". Not from my high school it isn't. What are they teaching now?

    Alan

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge
      Boffin

      High school stuff

      The centripetal force required for the gas with mass m1 to circle the black hole at the measured speed v and distance r is F=(m1*v^2)/r. This force is the gravitational pull by the black hole with mass m2, with F=G*(m1*m2)/r^2. Colliding these equations to eliminate m1 (the mass of the gas) you'll be left with v^2=G*m2/r, or m2=(r*v^2)/G.

      1. Captain DaFt

        Re: High school stuff

        You: "F=(m1*v^2)/r. This force is the gravitational pull by the black hole with mass m2, with F=G*(m1*m2)/r^2. Colliding these equations to eliminate m1 (the mass of the gas) you'll be left with v^2=G*m2/r, or m2=(r*v^2)/G."

        Me: >gurgle< >thud<

  10. Paul Smith

    High school equation

    If I read my wiki right, Orbital velocity (Vo) is proportional to the the square root of Big G times Mass divided by radius.

    Turn it around and Mass is velocity squared times radius divided by Big G.

  11. Stoneshop Silver badge
    Boffin

    Action at a distance

    "The infrared radiation makes the gas go into an excited state,"

    Astronomers as well.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Action at a distance

      Heavy breathing is not permitted anywhere near the telescope. You'll fog the mirror.

  12. Sceptic Tank
    Paris Hilton

    Where did the time go?

    This may be a stoopid question. But how do these black holes merge?

    Because of the mass time should slow down as they approach each other until it stops completely when their event horizons intersect, won't it? Should it not take infinitely long for their singularities to merge? LIGO results suggest otherwise.

    1. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: Where did the time go?

      For all we know they never merge, but since the singluarity that forms each black hole has gone beyond the event horizon generated by the mass of the black holes, we can never observe what happens to them.

      For all we know, they are sitting around singing "always look on the bright side of life" as they orbit each other.

      Unlikely but then anything is possible....

    2. cbars

      Re: Where did the time go?

      Lorentz frames.

      Apparent time from outside the black hole will appear to stretch to infinity, but those bad boys will smash into each other with a ferocity you would not believe - hello gravitational waves.

    3. swm Bronze badge

      Re: Where did the time go?

      At RIT there is a group that does numerical general relativity calculations and they have been simulating the collision of two black holes. If the black holes are spinning and spiral in to merge into one black hole the resulting black hole can go flying off in one direction and radiate gravitational waves in the other direction. Then there is the "ring down" phase when the black hole settles down to a "normal" black hole.

      These calculations are difficult because the coordinate system itself is a dynamical variable and has to be solved for with the motions of the black holes involved. Concepts like conservation of energy don't hold in general relativity except asymptotically as energy cannot be defined uniquely on a curved metric.

      They did predict a couple years in advance the signature of the black hole merger detected by LIGO.

  13. MT Field

    Cube root of 4 beeeellion is 1587 - and that is tremendous

  14. hellwig Silver badge

    CSIRO ASKAP BETA

    My God, it's full of Acronyms!

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