The Universe gives you a feeling of vertigo as much by the distances that separate each object in space as by the size of some of the objects themselves. It is difficult to put the scale into perspective as the figures are beyond our comprehension. The YouTuber Evett published a video comparing the size of the Sun with some of the biggest and most violent black holes in the Universe to try and make this concept of size in space easier to understand.
Our Sun compared with the biggest stars of the Universe
Harry Evett starts by comparing our Sun, which is already immense, to the star called RI36al. This is the most massive star known to exist in the Universe today. It measures about 300 solar masses. UY Scuti, which is the biggest star known to exist in the Universe, is the next star to be compared with the Sun. Although it is the biggest, it only weighs about 8 solar masses. We all know these measurements are huge but how can you put them into perspective? Put plainly, if you put UY Scuti in the place of our own star, it is so big it would reach Saturn’s orbit. However these measurements are nothing in comparison to the size of black holes.
The uncomprehending size of black holes
NGC 1277 is a cosmic beast of 5 billion solar masses. It is positioned at the centre of a lenticulaire galaxy which is itself situated in the Perseus constellation, about 231 million light years from the Milky Way. However black holes even bigger than this exist in the Universe. The black hole called Holmberg 158 measures a whopping 10 billion solar masses, which is trumped by OJ 287 and it’s 18 billion solar masses, H1821+643 and it’s 30 billion solar masses and even S5 0014 +81 with it’s mass believed to be 40 billion solar masses. The last black hole mentioned is the biggest black hole known to science!
Are you still struggling to comprehend the scale?
This video can help you put everything into perspective:
Our Galaxy’s black hole
At the centre of our own Galaxy there is a supermassive black hole called Sagittarius a*. It is thought to weigh about 4 solar masses. Recently researchers have used a network of radio telescopes scattered around our planet to form a virtual telescope which can cover 10,000 kilometers in diameter. By using this technology over 5 consecutive nights, researchers have captured images of this black hole. The researchers will now take several months to dissect the images before their work is published.