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Black holes could grow as large as 50 billion suns research shows

Black holes at the heart of galaxies could swell to 50 billion times the mass of the sun before losing the discs of gas they rely on to sustain themselves, according to research by Professor Andrew King from the Department of Physics and Astronomy.

In a study titled ‘How Big Can a Black Hole Grow?’ Professor King explores supermassive black holes at the centre of galaxies, around which are regions of space where gas settles into an orbiting disc.

This gas can lose energy and fall inwards, feeding the black hole. But these discs are known to be unstable and prone to crumbling into stars.

He calculated how big a black hole would have to be for its outer edge to keep a disc from forming, coming up with the figure of 50 billion solar masses.

The study suggests that without a disc, the black hole would stop growing, meaning 50 billion suns would roughly be the upper limit. The only way it could get larger is if a star happened to fall straight in or another black hole merged with it.

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