• Question: how far is the nearest super massive blackhole and can it suck our solar system?

    Asked by 07quiambaoj to Hywel, Keith on 25 Jun 2010 in Categories: .
    • Photo: Hywel Vaughan

      Hywel Vaughan answered on 25 Jun 2010:


      The is apparently a super-massive black hole in the centre of the milky way (and indeed at the centre of all galaxies). This centre is approximately 27,000 light-years away! As to whether it can suck us in, the tidal forces at the event horizon (the tipping point as it were) are significantly weaker than a traditional black hole. Since the centre is so far away from the horizon, you wouldn’t feel strong forces until you were deep in the black hole itself. The chances of one sucking us in is minimal 🙂

    • Photo: Keith Brain

      Keith Brain answered on 25 Jun 2010:


      I think that the nearest one is predicted to be at the very centre of our galaxy, at a location called Sagitarius A*. You can find out more about it at:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sagittarius_A*

      It is sucking at our solar system all the time, but is it an important contributor to our Solar System’s rotation around the centre of the Galaxy? I’m not sure … We’re pulled around the galactic centre (like the planet orbit the sun), because the net gravitation effects of all the stars in the galaxy pull us inwards. The key question is whether the (combined mass of all the solar system inside the the radius of orbit of our solar system) is smaller than (the mass of the supermassive black hole at around Sagittarius_A*). My guess is that there is more mass in the “other” solar systems, which suggests that the black hole isn’t the main thing pulling it around. With more time, we could check this out, by considering its mass, our distance from it, our angular velocity around the galaxy, and whether its gravitational force is big enough to pull our solar system around. Do Physics and you should be able to work this one out for yourself by the end of High School! [unashamed plug!]

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