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Black Holes Encyclopedia

NGC 3115

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Stats

Alternate Names

Spindle Galaxy

Type

Supermassive

Location

in the constellation Sextans

Distance

32 million light-years (9.7 megaparsecs)

Mass

400 million to 2 billion times the mass of the Sun

Size

Diameter probably equivalent to the size of Uranus' orbit around the Sun

Discovery Methods

Description

NGC 3115

The black hole at the center of the galaxy NGC 3115 is one of the largest and most-massive yet discovered: It probably weighs in at around one billion times the mass of the Sun.

The galaxy itself is several times larger than the Milky Way. Its stars are mostly old, and there is little gas to give birth to new stars. That also means there is little gas to feed the black hole, so there is no big, bright disk surrounding it.

Early in the galaxy's history, though, vast reserves of gas may have poured into the black hole, powering a "quasar" -- an object brighter than an entire galaxy of stars, but no bigger than our solar system. Quasars were common in the early universe, but as they used up the gas and dust around them, they shut down, so there are few quasars found in the more modern universe.

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This document was last modified: November 19, 2009.

Images

NGC 3115
Ground-Based Photo

NGC 3115
Ground-Based Photo

Anmimations

No animations available for this black hole.