• NASA released a new animation of 10 supermassive black holes
  • They are 100,000 to 60 billion times the mass of our Sun
  • Black Hole Week 2023 is observed from May 1 to 5

NASA has released a new animation of "monster" supermassive black holes. The behemoths are so massive that you can't help but feel so small.

Just in time for Black Hole Week, NASA released a new animation of 10 supermassive black holes, including the one at the center of our galaxy, the Milky Way.

The short video starts with the Sun, which in itself is already the largest object in our solar system, being 100 times wider than the Earth and 10 times wider than the biggest planet, Jupiter. It then pans out to the black holes starting out with dwarf galaxy 1601+3113, which has a black hole that has a mass of 100,000 Suns.

The Milky Way's black Hole, Sagittarius A*, is also shown with its weight of about 4.3 million Suns, as well as the two black holes of NGC 7727, the smaller of which is still massive with a mass of six million Suns.

The Sun gets significantly smaller as the animation moves further. The largest black hole among the supersized bodies is TON 618, which has a mass of 60 billion Suns. At this point, one can barely see the pinprick light of our Sun. Even the black hole at the center of our neighbor Andromeda galaxy, which already boasts the weight of 140 million Suns, suddenly pales in comparison to the giant.

"Direct measurements, many made with the help of the Hubble Space Telescope, confirm the presence of more than 100 supermassive black holes," Jeremy Schnittman of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center said in a news release. "How do they get so big? When galaxies collide, their central black holes eventually may merge together too."

Black holes are considered to be among the most mysterious objects in the universe. Despite being called "black holes," they aren't really "holes." Instead, they are compact concentrations of matter that are densely packed into a small space. The black hole at 1601+3113, for instance, is so densely packed that its shadow is said to be smaller than our Sun even though it has a mass of 100,000 Suns.

"A black hole is so dense that gravity just beneath its surface, the event horizon, is strong enough that nothing – not even light – can escape," NASA noted. "There is much we don't know about black holes."

But scientists are working hard to know more about these enigmatic bodies. They so far know that most galaxies the size of our own host a "monster" black hole, and that matter that gets too close to a black hole may undergo a process called "spaghettification," or when it gets squeezed and stretched like a noodle.

This Black Hole Week, get to know these celestial bodies more. You can even play the fun game called "The Roman Space Observer," where the objective is to "catch" celestial bodies, including black holes.

Supermassive black hole
Artistic representation of a supermassive black hole. In 2010, Spitzer found two such black holes that formed a billion years after the birth of the universe. NASA/JPL-Caltech