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NASA animation shows the sun vs a giant black hole and it’s terrifying

NASA animation shows the sun vs a giant black hole and it’s terrifying

Talk about putting things in perspective.

If you needed a bit of humbling today, NASA is here to help.

An animation from the space agency shows just how teeny-tiny we are in the context of supermassive black holes across the galaxies.

Check it out for yourself:

The video starts with a view of our sun - which for most of us, is the most important interplanetary being outside of Earth.

The animation then begins to zoom out, and it becomes almost immediately clear that the sun is a tiny, almost inconsequential part of the universe.

First we travel past what is romantically called 1601+3113, which looks ginormous but is actually a dwarf galaxy. It's still a whole lot bigger than us - it has a black hole containing the mass of 100,000 suns, but incredibly compressed. In the grand scheme of things, that black hole is a bit of a tiddler.

And this is just one of 10 black holes visualized in the animation. As NASA so eloquently says: "All monster black holes are not equal" - and the video continues to zoom out to show us just how many are lurking.

The black holes range from a whopping 100,000 to more than 60 billion times the mass of the sun. The animation visualizes them to scale according to the size of their shadows, which is described as "a circular zone about twice the size of their event horizons".

According to Jeremy Schnittman, a theorist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, scientists have found over 100 supermassive black holes, and confirmed their size with the help of the Hubble Space Telescope.

He said: “How do they get so big? When galaxies collide, their central black holes eventually may merge together too.”

Ton 618 really is a whopper.
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center Conceptual Image Lab

As if the video couldn't get more terrifying, its grand finale are two of the biggest supermassive black holes of the lot: M87 and TON 618. According to NASA, M87 has an almost unfathomable mass of 5.4 billion suns.

Apparently its shadow is so large that a beam of light traveling at 670 million mph (1 billion kph) – would take about two and a half days to cross it.

And TON 618? It dwarves almost everything in the video - it contains over 60 billion solar masses and would take a beam of light weeks to travel across.

It even holds the Guinness World Record for the most massive observed black hole - but before you get too freaked out, there's not a huge amount to worry about. After all, TON 618 is around 10.8 billion light-years away from us, so it's unlikely to be swallowing up Earth any time soon.

In fact, only one of the supermassive black holes actually resides inside our galaxy. That's Sagittarius A*, and it's not like we're in any danger from that either - as it's 26,000 light-years away from us.

Featured Image Credit: Credit: dzika_mrowka / ANDRZEJ WOJCICKI/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY / Getty