Our Universe - Super Massive Black Holes - Gaias Homes

Our Universe – Super Massive Black Holes

 In Science

Super massive Black Holes are an area of astronomy that has been significantly studied since decades and with thanks to the advance in technology, scientists have managed to better understand how they are formed and the impact they have on the evolution of galaxies. It is first wise to look at the definition of what a black hole is compared to a Super-massive Black Holes. NASA’s World Book (2004) defines a black hole as “a region of space whose gravitational force is so strong that nothing can escape from it – not even light.” Scientists believe that a Super-massive Black Hole has the same characteristics as a black hole, with the main difference being, as the name Super massive suggests, being the size of it. Many astronomers and scientists believe that a Super-massive Black Hole is the largest variety of its kind within a galaxy. What most have also believed is, that as well as being the largest type of black holes, these Super-massive appearances can also be found at the center of galaxies.

Firstly we should look at the evidence that suggests these Super-massive Black Holes exist at the center of galaxies. Astronomers and scientists at first found it difficult to prove that black holes do exist in our galaxies. In 1916, Albert Einstein, one of the most well known physicists created his General Relativity theory. Although his theory was first published in 1916, it could be seen to indicate there could be objects in space in which his theory applies to. The theory of Einstein would suggest that there could be an object that alters both space and time, so much so that not even light can escape from it. This is what many modern scientists believe that a black hole is. Many scientists believe that the gravitational force that comes from these black holes is far too strong for anything to escape its pull, including light, which would then explain how these black holes appear invisible.


This image depicts a rapidly spinning super-massive black hole surrounded by an accretion disc. This thin disc of rotating material consists of the leftovers of a Sun-like star which was ripped apart by the tidal forces of the black hole. Shocks in the colliding debris as well as heat generated in accretion led to a burst of light, resembling a supernova explosion.


To help prove the existence of this invisible force therefore, the best chance of detecting a black hole is to look for an invisible object whose mass is too great to be anything else.” Scientists have therefore looked at the movement of stars around this invisible object in several different galaxies, and thanks to these measurements the Hubble Space Telescope managed to determine the mass of the object to be several million times the size of the sun was present in the stars orbit. Scientists and astronomers believe that the only object that could have this effect on the stars orbit and have as high a mass would have to be a Super-massive Black Hole. The Telegraph in December 2008, reported that a group of scientists had spent the last 16 years studying whether there was a Super-massive Black Hole at the center of our galaxy, in the Milky Way. As before they studied the stars orbit circling the invisible object and found that the mass seems to be about four million times the size of the sun. This would therefore suggest that Super-massive Black Holes are at the center of galaxies, including our own. Astronomers and Scientists therefore believe that if you measure the mass of a dark object and that it has a high mass in a small area of space it is most probably a Super-massive Black Hole.

Once scientists and astronomers had seemed to provide substantial evidence to the existence of these Super-massive Black Holes, they did not stop their research in this area. Many septics believed that if these objects existed in our galaxy how did they appear? Thus scientists and astronomers continued to research Super-massive Black Holes and how they have been formed. Astronomers predicted the existence of black holes in the 1930s when they realized that a star’s mass may cause it to collapse beyond neutron degeneracy. This is an explanation for how black holes are formed, however the majority of astronomers and scientists believe there could be more than one explanation for how Super-massive Black Holes are formed.

One model that scientists believe could explain the formation of these objects in our galaxy is looking at the early years of the stars. This model looks at how the first stars were formed without a suitable make-up which could have resulted in them leaving behind what is known as “black hole seeds”. The idea that black holes have been formed by these seeds has been studied in recent years. These black holes may have stemmed from “seeds” of the early stars, meaning Super-massive Black Holes could be Billions of years old, which could explain how they are at the center of our galaxies.

Another model that looks to describe the formation of these Super-massive Black Holes is the idea that they are in fact formed due to the collapse of a large gas cloud. These large gas clouds would collapse into a rotating neutron star of an extremely high mass, this star would be unstable due it not containing the correct electron make-up and instead of a supernova explosion it would result in a Super-massive Black Hole as being its only remaining by-product.

Another model which has been suggested by a minority of researchers is the idea that Super-massive Black Holes are a by-product of the beginning of the galaxy, the Big Bang. These scientists believe that after the Big Bang, the pressure of the newly formed galaxy would be extremely high, so much so, that it could have resulted in areas of high density that would have formed black holes. They suggest that many of these black holes would not have lasted a long period of time as the galaxy was expanding, however some may still exist to this present day. If this is the case, the galaxy would expand around the black hole leaving it and the center of the galaxy.

Another model which was suggested in the last years by researchers in Germany, is “the concept of circulating mass.” The scientists say that every time a Black Hole gets created after a Massive Star dies, it creates a new “Universe” and a “Bridge” into it. Not stopping here – They claim this happened in another Universe as our Universe got created – Our Mother Universe. What we call “The Big Bang” was accordingly to this Theory just the collapse of a Star in another Universe. This could be also the explanation why our Universe expands constantly, because – of course – always new Mass enters our Universe through the Entrance in its center – the Exit of a Super Massive Black hole. This theory gives birth to not only a scientific but also philosophic debate. Giving the chance that our Universe is just one out of countless others, Child and Mother Universe in one, makes us feel smaller than ever. Some scientists compare the concept of circulating mass to a living organism with multiplying cells, and the mass in form of protons, electrons and other atoms that “circulate” through the Universes system could be seen as the Blood or Blood Plasma. However, this Theory hasn’t found many attention yet – but it is definitely one of the more interesting and impressive ones.

With researchers now able to provide evidence that Super-massive Black Holes do exist at the center of our galaxies and being able to give various substantial evidence on the formation of these black holes, astronomers and scientists have also looked to explain how they have an effect on the evolution of galaxies. As we have seen, many researchers believe that there are Super-massive Black Holes at the center of the galaxies. Researchers believe that roughly ten percent of the black holes contain high levels of ionized gas, which is released in opposite directions of the black hole. This is most likely to be released as kinetic energy. Astronomers believe that this would have an effect on how stars behave and play a vital role in the evolution of galaxies within the universe.

For many years astronomers and scientists have been able to find a correlation between the mass of the Super-massive Black Holes and the galaxy it inhabits. In other words, many researchers believe that the size of the black hole does have an effect on the mass of that galaxy. More recently however researchers have managed to acquire some knowledge on how else a Super-massive Black Hole has an impact on its galaxy. Scientists have studied the spin of the black holes, as they believe this could result in the ionized gas being released from the black hole, which would then in turn control the growth of the galaxy it is at the center of. Another way that these Super-massive Black Holes could have an impact on the evolution of galaxies could be as a result of two black holes colliding.


This illustration shows how two super-massive black holes merged to form a single black hole which was then ejected from its parent galaxy. Panel 1: Two galaxies are interacting and finally merging with each other. The super-massive black holes in their centers are attracted to each other. Panel 2: As soon as the super-massive black holes get close they start orbiting each other, in the process creating strong gravitational waves. Panel 3: As they radiate away gravitational energy the black holes move closer to each other over time and finally merge. Panel 4: If the two black holes do not have the same mass and rotation rate, they emit gravitational waves more strongly along one direction. When the two black holes finally collide, they stop producing gravitational waves and the newly merged black hole then recoils in the opposite direction to the strongest gravitational waves and is shot out of its parent galaxy.


Researchers have recently discovered what will happen when two Super-massive Black Holes “collide” with one another. The gravitational attraction between the two is believed to upset the stars positions surrounding the galaxies center, but many researchers did not know whether the two would attract together to form one large super-massive black hole or whether they would repel from one another. Scientists have recently been able to answer this thanks to a collision that occurred between a large and small black hole. The results of the collision were as expected with the stars surrounding the center being upset and altered. The question to whether they would form a larger black hole or repel was also answered, as the two became closer they repel and eject the black hole from its galaxy, sending it at high speeds across space surviving on its accretion disk alone. Many researchers believe that thanks to this phenomenon that took place, they may be able to further explain formation of galaxies and their black holes, with further research and more advances in technology scientists and astronomers will continue to study Super-massive Black Holes.

As we have seen from the proposed research put forward by various astronomers and scientists, it seems more than likely that Super-massive Black Holes do exist at the center of our galaxies. Thanks to the research, they have helped in the understanding on how they exist, as being large invisible objects with an extremely large mass and large gravitational pull that is at the center of every galaxy. As well as this, astronomers and scientists have also been able to explain how these objects could have formed in our galaxy, by looking at different models which include dying stars being turned into black holes millions of years ago, to models which suggest they are formed due to collapsing dense gas clouds. We have also seen researchers look at the impact such objects have had in our galaxies, and seen suggestions that these Super-massive Black Holes helped to create the way a galaxy looks, such as its stars positions and the galaxies mass. With further research and more advances in technology, the future could see more results into this area of astronomy, with researchers looking at a clearer definition to how these Super-massive Black Holes are formed and what effect they have on the evolution of the galaxies they inhabit.

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