Supermassive Black Holes – Omar Almaini – 21/11/11

21st November 2011

On the 21st November, we spoke to Dr Omar Almaini from the astronomy department about Supermassive Black Holes.

No. This does not mean an analysis of the underlying rhythm and structure of the Muse song.

We discussed:
– How do black holes form?
– What happens as you get closer to a black hole?
– What are quasars and active galaxies?
– Why don’t black holes keep ‘sucking stuff in’?

This is an artist’s impression of a black hole:

Supermassive Black Hole

And here are some black holes (or Active Galactic Nuclei – AGN) for real:


To see a movie of the black hole at the centre of our galaxy (made with photos of real astronomical observations), please follow the link below:

We talked about spaghettification earlier, here’s a artists impression to make you smile!

So how big is a black hole in comparison to an everyday place?

Black hole size comparison

If the Sun was replaced with a black hole that had the same mass as the Sun, the radius would be 3 km (compared to the Sun’s radius of nearly 700,000 km). Hence the Earth would have to get very close to get sucked into a black hole at the center of our Solar System.

Science in the news:

– Everyone’s favourite Big-Bang/Doomsday/Particle-Colliding device is going to get some fancy new shoes by 2020. Apparently this might allow us to probe the nature of time itself?

– Neutrinos DO go faster than light!

– Oh no they don’t!

Seems the other lab at Gran Sasso disagree, that must be a tense tea room.

– Men of average height have more children apparently:

Dave, Omar and Emma