With a mass of 40 billion solar masses, this is the most massive black hole known today in the local universe.

Dr Roberto Saglia, senior scientist at the Max Planck Institute, said: ”This is several times larger than expected from indirect measurements, such as the stellar mass or the velocity dispersion of the galaxy.”

The light profile of the galaxy shows a centre with an extremely low and very diffuse surface brightness, far fainter than otherwise similar elliptical galaxies.

Kianusch Mehrgan University Observatory Munich doctoral student, who performed the data analysis, added: “The light profile in the inner core is also very flat.


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