Black Hole Basics

You know what don’t make sense? Black holes.

You know what we’re going to make sense of today? Black holes!

STBlackHole panel

The Three Types

Primordial Black Holes

These black holes are teeny tiny, 0.00000001 kg on average. They were created closely following the big bang, which means the smallest of the lot should have all evaporated by now.

Astronomers aren’t sure on how they’re made, but it is hypothesised that they were made during a time when radiation dominated the universe.

Stellar Black Holes

These black holes are the types students know and love, as they’re formed by the collapse of a massive star. Stellar Black Holes are anywhere between 3 and 1000 solar masses, but can eat their way above the upper limit.

The life of a star is mainly determined by its mass. Large stars that have masses above the Tolman-Oppenheimer-Volkoff limit (roughly 2.17 solar masses) become supernova and then black holes, however very large stars can skip the supernova entirely. This is called a massive fail.

N6946-BH1 was a star that collapsed into a black hole, caught on camera. Here’s the before (2007) and after (2015) pictures.


Supermassive Black Holes

These humongous monsters are about as old as their host galaxy, and anywhere up to a billion solar masses. The best hypothesis for their formation is that they’re a stellar black hole that’s eaten a whole lot of other stars and gas.

Since they power quasars and active galactic nuclei (early galaxies), they must have formed quite early on. Most large galaxies have a supermassive black hole in its centre, the Milky Way’s being Sagittarius A*. M87, recently captured with telescopes, also has a supermassive black hole.

Credit: Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration
Ultramassive Black Holes – A type of Supermassive Black Hole

If you thought black holes couldn’t get any bigger, think again!

Ultramassive black holes are beyond a billion solar masses, and are so huge that they struggle to cope with their mass and slow down accretion. Because of this, galaxies with ultramassive black holes have stars orbiting closer to the black hole than normal.

TON 618 is a quasar in Canes Venatici. It is the largest black hole ever discovered, at a gigantic 66 BILLION SOLAR MASSES!

Given that the USS Enterprise NCC-1701 travels at warp 6 most often, which is 216 x the speed of light, it would take a mere hour and 40 minutes to travel TON 618’s diameter, assuming we’re talking about The Original Series and the Schwarzchild radius of TON 618 is 1300 AU.

I couldn’t find any pictures of the galaxy, but it is described to be violet.


This is part one of Black Hole Basics. In this series, we’ll also cover mathematics and properties of black holes, along with other amazing facts about them. Bye for now!

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