Galaxy NGC 1097 contains a supermassive black hole in its center.

Photo:  ESO/R. Gendler

There's a black hole at the center of a galaxy 45 million light years away that's many times more massive than the one at the center of our own Milky Way.

Galaxy NGC 1097 has a mass equal to about 140 million of our solar system's suns. To compare, the black hole at the center of the Milky Way Galaxy is estimated to have a mass of about four million of our suns. The findings are detailed this month in the Astrophysical Journal.

Because black holes can’t be seen, astronomers find them by identifying effects on neighboring space, says Doug Duncan of Boulder’s Fiske Planetarium: “Things are pulled down into it like a bathtub drain – stuff swirls around and around, and then goes down the drain."

That swirling material is called an accretion disk and it points to a black hole. Duncan speaks with Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner.