We share the Milky Way with 100 million black holes | Science News

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We share the Milky Way with 100 million black holes

New census estimates the number of cosmic chasms based on galaxy size and makeup

9:00am, August 18, 2017
Milky Way

CRUNCH THE NUMBERS  Scientists estimate that the Milky Way contains 100 million black holes.

The Milky Way teems with black holes — about 100 million of them.

But there’s no reason to fear. “It may sound like a big number, but by astronomical standards, it’s a pretty small number,” says physicist Daniel Holz of the University of Chicago. The number of stars in the Milky Way, for example, is about a thousand times larger.

Scientists from the University of California, Irvine calculated the galaxy’s black hole population as part of a new census that estimates the numbers of cosmic chasms in galaxies big and small. The analysis, in press in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, quantified stellar-mass black holes, which form when a star collapses. Such objects can have masses tens of times that of the sun.

To draw up the celestial inventory, the researchers

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