A supermassive black hole is the largest type of black hole in a galaxy, on the order of hundreds of thousands to billions of solar masses. Most--and possibly all--galaxies, including the Milky Way (see Sagittarius A*), are believed to contain supermassive black holes at their centers.
Supermassive black holes have properties which distinguish them from lower-mass classifications. First, the average density of a supermassive black hole (defined as the mass of the black hole divided by the volume within its Schwarzschild radius) can be less than the density of water in the case of some supermassive black holes. This is because the Schwarzschild radius is directly proportional to mass, while density is inversely proportional to the volume. Since the volume of a spherical object (such as the event horizon of a non-rotating black hole) is directly proportional to the cube of the radius, the density of a black hole is inversely proportional to the square of the mass, and thus higher mass black holes have lower average density. Also, the tidal forces in the vicinity of the event horizon are significantly weaker. Since the central singularity is so far away from the horizon, a hypothetical astronaut traveling towards the black hole center would not experience significant tidal force until very deep into the black hole.
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Famous quotes containing the words hole and/or black:
“I see the horses and the sad streets
Of my childhood in an agate eye
Roving, under the clean sheets,
Over a black hole in the sky.”
—Allen Tate (18991979)
“So now it is vain for the singer to burst into clamor
With the great black piano appassionato. The glamour
Of childish days is upon me, my manhood is cast
Down in the flood of remembrance, I weep like a child for the past.”
—D.H. (David Herbert)