Black holes can get pretty big, but there's a special class that is the biggest of the big, absolute yawning monster black holes.

And astronomers seem to have found an absolute specimen, clocking in at 40 billion times the mass of the Sun.

It's at the centre of a galaxy called Holmberg 15A, a supergiant elliptical galaxy around 700 million light-years away, which in turn sits at the centre of the Abell 85 galaxy cluster.

The object is one of the biggest black holes ever found, and the biggest found by tracking the movement of the stars around it.

Previous calculations based on the dynamics of the galaxy and the cluster had resulted in Holm 15A* mass estimates of up to 310 billion times the mass of the Sun.

However, these were all indirect measurements of the black hole. This new research marks the first direct measurement; the paper has been submitted to The Astrophysical Journal, and awaits peer review.

"We use orbit-based, axisymmetric Schwarzschild models to analyse the stellar kinematics of Holm 15A from new high-resolution, wide-field spectral observations obtained with MUSE at the VLT. We find a supermassive black hole (SMBH) with a mass of (4.0 ± 0.80) × 1010 solar masses at the center of Holm 15A," the researchers wrote in their paper.
“根据用超大望远镜通过MUSE软件获取的新的高分辨率广角光谱观测结果,我们用基于轨道的轴对称施瓦西模型来分析霍姆15A星系的恒星运动学特性。我们发现了一个超级大的黑洞(SMBH),它位于霍姆15A星系的中心,是太阳的 (4.0 ± 0.80) × 1010倍大,”研究人员在论文中写道。

"This is the most massive black hole with a direct dynamical detection in the local Universe."