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Researchers have proposed a new means for getting a measure of just how massive supermassive black holes are.

They are known to exist at the centres of most galaxies, but a puzzle remains as to how they affect galaxy evolution.

The approach, published in Nature, infers a black hole’s mass from the speed of molecules swirling around it.

It could help weigh hundreds of nearby black holes. Its first use suggests a black hole in the NGC4526 galaxy weighs 450 million times that of our Sun.




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