M87BlackHole1.jpg

At more than six trillion times the mass of the sun, nearby galaxy M87 is the most massive galaxy in the local universe. Using the Gemini North telescope, which sits on top of Mauna Kea in Hawaii, astronomer Karl Gebhardt and his team measured the speed of stars moving past the galactic center to estimate the mass of the black hole situated in the middle of M87.

"This is the biggest black hole in the nearby universe," Gebhardt said during a press conference at the University of Texas at Austin yesterday, according to Wired Science. For comparison, the black hole that sits in the center of our own Milky Way Galaxy is just four million times the mass of the sun. "In terms of the largest galaxies, it really is in our backyard," Gebhardt said. "Being so close to such a massive black hole allows us a remarkable chance to study what happens around a black hole."

The image shown above is an artist's rendition of the black hole.

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Image: Lynette Cook/Gemini Observatory/AURA. Via Wired Science.