A Collision in Space Caused a Black Hole 142 Times Bigger Than the Sun

An artist's concept shows a supermassive black hole surrounded by a disk of gas

Space is full of surprises.

According to PBS, scientists have observed the collision of two black holes, creating a new size of black hole that has never been seen before.

Rest assured, this massive black hole won’t be consuming our universe like it would in a sci-fi movie. This black hole collision is thought to have occurred over seven billion years ago, and we are just observing it now because it is so far away, according to PBS.

Before this new type of black hole was seen, scientists thought that were only two basic sizes of black holes, PBS reported. The first, smaller sized, caused by a star that dies and collapses in on itself — also known as a stellar black hole — and a larger sized, supermassive black hole that's millions of times larger than Earth’s sun and have complete galaxies that revolve around them. This recently observed black hole is somewhere between the two, according to PBS.

The event was observed in May 2019, when scientists picked up a signal that turned out to be two stellar black holes colliding with each other. The two black holes were 66 times and 85 times the mass of Earth’s sun, PBS reported, resulting in a black hole that was around 142 times bigger than the sun. While you might think this collision would be absolutely deafening to hear, the signal was actually pretty tame.

“It just sounds like a thud,” said Caltech physicist Alan Weinstein to PBS. “It really doesn’t sound like much on a speaker.” Despite the rather anticlimactic sound, the collision is thought to be the “biggest bang since the Big Bang observed by humanity,” according to Weinstein.

It’s currently not known how supermassive black holes form (or grow in size, for that matter), but the observance of events such as this can provide more information for further study. In fact, a black hole was only first photographed back in April 2019.

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