Science Focus - the home of BBC Science Focus Magazine
How big could a black hole get? © Getty Images

How big could a black hole get?

Subscribe to BBC Science Focus Magazine and get 6 issues for just £9.99

These cosmic sinkholes can swell to the mass of billions of suns, but something seems to stop them there...

Asked by: Vanessa Taylor, Nottingham

Advertisement

There is no theoretical upper limit to the mass of a black hole. However, astronomers have noted that the ultra-massive black holes (UMBHs) found in the cores of some galaxies never seem to exceed about 10 billion solar masses. This is exactly what we’d expect from the rate at which we know black holes grow, given the time that’s elapsed since the Big Bang.

Furthermore, recent studies suggest that UMBHs cannot physically grow much beyond this anyway, since they would then begin to disrupt the accretion discs that feed them, choking the source of new material.

Read more:

Advertisement

Authors

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Sponsored content