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Black Holes Encyclopedia

NGC 4473

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in the constellation Virgo

Finder Chart


50 million light-years (15.7 megaparsecs)


Roughly 100 million times the mass of the Sun


Diameter roughly equal to the size of the asteroid belt in our own solar system.

Discovery Methods


NGC 4473

Astronomers discovered a likely supermassive black hole in the core of NGC 4473 as part of a survey of possible host galaxies with Hubble Space Telescope. NGC 4473 is classified as an elliptical galaxy, although it is slightly flattened into a disk-like shape. By measuring the orbital motions of stars near the center of the galaxy, a team of astronomers concluded that the stars are orbiting a black hole of roughly 50 million to 100 million times the mass of the Sun.

This and other black holes in the hearts of galaxies suggest that there is a link between the black hole's mass and the overall mass of the galaxy. There is also evidence that the supermassive black holes may form first, and form as a sort of gravitational "seed" to attract the gas and dust that gives birth to a galaxy's stars.



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This document was last modified: November 19, 2009.


NGC 4473
Ground-Based Photo


No animations available for this black hole.