Thursday, December 2

Let’s talk about TON 618, possibly the largest object in the entire known universe

The universe houses great things, very big. Really great. There are stars thousands of times larger than the Sun, capable of cause supernovae that shake the space itself. But have you ever wondered what it is the largest, most massive object we’ve ever seen? I am not talking about groups of objects such as galaxies or nebulae, but the largest individual object in the universe that we have been able to observe.

That object is called TON 618, and its characteristics are so exaggerated that scientists have a hard time believing its existence. It is no longer just the object itself, but all the effects it causes around it.

A black hole larger than ten solar systems placed side by side

TON 618 it is an ultramassive black hole whose mass equivalent to 66,000 million soles. It is 18 billion light-years away, but the accretion disk that revolves around it shines so brightly (as bright as a hundred trillion stars) that we can see it from Earth. There is an entire galaxy around it, but the brightness of TON 618 is too big to see.

So we are looking at a version of TON 618 from 18 billion years ago. And considering that we are talking about a black hole, today TON 618 may be much, much bigger than what we are seeing in our firmament.

But even the TON 618’s measurements from the distant past are impressive. The radius of the black hole proper from its event horizon is 207,000 million kilometers. It is so large that we could place eleven solar systems like ours, side by side, within it.

Another way of trying to mentally comprehend the disproportionate size of TON 618 is the one that they comment en In short: A particle of light caught in the event horizon would take a week to reach the infinitesimal singularity at the center.

All these data also allow us to know that TON 618 was formed when the universe was very young, “only” 3.4 billion years after the Big Bang. Since then it has been absorbing matter trapping it in its gravitational field, and it will not stop until there is literally nothing left to absorb.

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