OJ 287 Black Hole: Size, Mass, Diameter, Radius, Location, Facts, Distance from Earth

OJ 287 Black Hole: Size, Mass, Diameter, Radius, Location, Facts, Distance from Earth

OJ 287 Black Hole

In the vast cosmic expanse, where mysteries abound, OJ 287 emerges as a celestial enigma, captivating astronomers for over a century. This distant galaxy, located 5 billion light-years away in the constellation Cancer, conceals a fascinating secret ā€“ a binary supermassive black hole system, orchestrating a mesmerizing dance that unleashes intense bursts of light. Let's embark on a journey through the cosmos to unveil the intricacies of OJ 287.

What is OJ 287 Black Hole

The OJ 287 Black Hole is a supermassive black hole located at the center of the quasar OJ 287, which is an active galactic nucleus exhibiting intense brightness variations.

How Old is OJ 287 Black Hole

The exact age of the OJ 287 Black Hole is not precisely known, but it is estimated to be around several billion years old.

How Big is OJ 287 Black Hole

The size of the OJ 287 Black Hole is characterized by its immense mass and gravitational influence.

OJ 287 Black Hole Size in Miles / Km

The exact size of the OJ 287 Black Hole is challenging to determine, as its characteristics are primarily described in terms of mass and gravitational effects rather than physical size.

OJ 287 Black Hole Solar Mass / Kg / Pounds

The OJ 287 Black Hole has a mass of approximately 18 billion solar masses, equivalent to approximately 3.56 Ɨ 10^40 kg or 7.84 Ɨ 10^40 pounds.

OJ 287 Black Hole Diameter in Miles / Km / Au / Light Years

The diameter of the OJ 287 Black Hole is not conventionally measured due to its nature. Instead, its characteristics are often described in terms of its Schwarzschild radius, which is a theoretical concept related to the size of the event horizon.

OJ 287 Black Hole Radius in light years

The OJ 287 Black Hole has a radius that corresponds to its Schwarzschild radius, which is approximately 32 light years.

OJ 287 Black Hole Location

The OJ 287 Black Hole is situated at the center of the quasar OJ 287, located in the constellation Cancer.

10 Interesting Fun Facts About OJ 287 Black Hole

  1. OJ 287 is known for being one of the largest and most massive black holes discovered in a binary system with another black hole.
  2. The quasar OJ 287 exhibits regular outbursts of light, and its variability has been observed for over a century.
  3. OJ 287 is classified as a blazar, a type of active galactic nucleus with a jet pointed towards Earth.
  4. The black hole in OJ 287 is part of a binary system, where it interacts with a smaller companion black hole.
  5. The OJ 287 system provides a unique laboratory for testing the predictions of general relativity due to its binary nature.
  6. The binary nature of OJ 287 allows astronomers to make precise predictions about the timing of its outbursts.
  7. OJ 287 is located billions of light years away from Earth, making it a distant and fascinating cosmic object.
  8. The quasar's brightness can vary significantly over a short period, suggesting complex processes occurring near the black hole.
  9. The study of OJ 287 contributes to our understanding of the role of black holes in shaping the evolution of galaxies.
  10. OJ 287 has been extensively studied with telescopes and other observatories across different wavelengths.

OJ 287 Black Hole Distance from Earth in Light Years / Miles / Km

The OJ 287 Black Hole is located approximately 3.5 billion light years away from Earth, equivalent to about 2.05 Ɨ 10^22 miles (3.29 Ɨ 10^22 kilometers).

The Cosmic Ballet: OJ 287's Stellar Performance

A Glimpse into History

OJ 287 first graced photographic plates in 1888, with its radio wavelength debut in the 1960s during the Ohio Sky Survey. Its luminous flashes, dating back to 1891, perplexed astronomers, laying the foundation for a profound cosmic revelation.

Binary Supermassive Black Hole: The Cosmic Duo

OJ 287 harbors a binary supermassive black hole system, with a primary black hole initially estimated at 18.35 billion solar masses and a secondary companion around 150 million solar masses. Recent recalculations suggest a primary black hole mass of 100 million solar masses, challenging earlier assumptions.

The Dance of Light: Understanding Flares

The optical light curve of OJ 287 exhibits periodic variations every 11ā€“12 years, marked by a distinctive double peak at maximum brightness. This phenomenon hints at a binary supermassive black hole, where the smaller companion punctures the accretion disk of the larger one, triggering the spectacular double-burst variability.

The Orbital Choreography

A secondary black hole, orbiting the larger one with an approximate 12-year cycle, adds complexity to the cosmic dance. The eccentric orbit, coupled with a calculated eccentricity of 0.65, unveils a celestial ballet with perinigricon and aponigricon locations at 3,250 and 17,500 astronomical units (AU) respectively.

Revelations from International Research

Stefanie Komossa and her international research group redefined OJ 287's narrative by recalculating the primary black hole's mass. Contrary to prior assumptions, a smaller mass of 100 million solar masses now takes center stage, challenging the cosmic status quo.

Countdown to Cosmic Union

As OJ 287's companion's orbit decays via gravitational radiation emission, astronomers predict a cosmic union with the central black hole within 10,000 years, promising a gravitational spectacle that will reverberate through space and time.

OJ 287 Black Hole

Below is a specification table for the OJ 287 Black Hole:

Property Description
Name OJ 287
Type BL Lac (a type of active galactic nucleus)
Distance from Earth Approximately 5 billion light-years
Discovery Year First observed in photographic images in 1888
Radio Waves Detection Detected in the 1960s by the Big Ear Radio Observatory, operated by Ohio State University
Periodic Flares Periodic flashes of light observed with two different periodicities: one repeating every 12 years and the other repeating every 55 years
Binary System Binary supermassive black hole system
Primary Black Hole Mass Initial estimates: Approximately 18.35 billion solar masses More recent models: Approximately 100 million solar masses
Secondary Black Hole Mass Initial estimates: Approximately 150 million solar masses Recent models: Approximately 125 million solar masses (subject to debate)
Schwarzschild Radius (Primary BH) Approximately 1.97 Astronomical Units (AU)
Orbital Characteristics Secondary black hole orbits the larger one with an observed orbital period of approximately 12 years Eccentricity of approximately 0.65
Flare Characteristics The optical light curve shows a periodic variation of 11ā€“12 years with a narrow double peak at maximum brightness Double-burst variability attributed to the smaller black hole punching through the accretion disk of the larger black hole
Mass Calculation Result An international research group led by Stefanie Komossa calculated the mass of the primary black hole, favoring models with a smaller mass of 100 million solar masses for the primary black hole
Rotation of Primary Black Hole Calculated to be 38% of the maximum allowed rotation for a Kerr black hole
Orbital Decay of Secondary BH The companion's orbit is decaying via the emission of gravitational radiation, expected to merge with the central black hole within approximately 10,000 years
Gamma-Ray Flares Result from the smaller black hole passing through the accretion disk, interacting with the gas, and emitting gamma rays Significant flares observed with emissions 100 times brighter than an entire galaxy
Future Event Researchers predict that in about 10,000 years, the two black holes will merge, generating gravitational waves and concluding their cosmic dance

This table summarizes key specifications and characteristics of the OJ 287 Black Hole, providing an overview of its properties and behavior as observed and modeled by astronomers.

OJ 287: A Cosmic Symphony Unveiled

Invisible Giants: Supermassive Black Holes

Supermassive black holes, shrouded in cosmic darkness, are the colossal anchors at the hearts of galaxies. OJ 287's revelation highlights the dynamic interplay between these invisible giants, showcasing the profound impact of their cosmic interactions.

Detecting Darkness: The Indirect Glimpse

Despite their light-absorbing nature, black holes manifest their presence through intricate interactions with their surroundings. Scientists employ a spectrum of observations, from visible light to gamma rays, to decipher the cosmic intricacies of OJ 287.

Unveiling New Dimensions: Recent Observations and Surprising Revelations

The Puzzling History

For over 120 years, OJ 287's periodic flares have puzzled astronomers. A recent breakthrough, marking a significant chapter in the galaxy's chronicles, sheds light on the mystery. Two colossal black holes, intricately entwined in a cosmic waltz, emerge as the architects behind these celestial flares.

Direct Glimpses: Confirming the Binary Black Hole

While astronomers have long theorized the existence of a secondary black hole in OJ 287, direct confirmation remained elusive. The detection, led by Mauri Valtonen and his international team, marks a pivotal moment in astronomical history. The team's meticulous observations, spanning various wavelengths, finally provided the elusive evidence of the secondary black hole.

The Unexpected Flares: Unraveling Cosmic Secrets

During the observational campaign of 2021/2022, astronomers anticipated the expected signal following the secondary black hole's plunge through the accretion disk. However, two unexpected surprises captivated the scientific community.

  1. A One-Day Stellar Burst: Staszek Zola's observation unveiled a colossal flare in the R band, with an energy output surpassing that of an entire galaxy. Lasting just one day, this rare phenomenon occurred as the secondary black hole devoured a substantial amount of new gas during its plunge, intensifying OJ 287's brilliance.

  2. Gamma-Ray Revelation: The Fermi satellite detected an unprecedented spurt of gamma rays. This cosmic outburst, synchronized with the secondary black hole's interaction with the accretion disk, added a new layer to OJ 287's mystique. Researchers delving into archival data discovered a similar gamma-ray burst in 2013, aligning with the secondary's previous plunge.

A Celestial Spirograph: Unraveling OJ 287's Orbital Complexities

The dance of the smaller black hole around its larger companion resembles a spirograph, with each orbit presenting a unique celestial pattern. The eccentric orbit, coupled with the smaller black hole's tilting angle, results in two plunges through the accretion disk ā€“ a mesmerizing cosmic spectacle that triggers the intense flares observed from Earth.

Gravitational Wave Symphony: A Cosmic Merger on the Horizon

As OJ 287's binary system emits gravitational radiation, its orbit steadily decays. In approximately 10,000 years, these colossal black holes are destined for a cosmic merger, unleashing gravitational waves that will echo through the fabric of space and time. The celestial dance of OJ 287 will culminate in a grand cosmic finale, capturing the attention of future gravitational wave detectors.

Peering into the Celestial Choreography: OJ 287's Dance Unveiled

Decoding the Mysteries: Unraveling OJ 287's Flares

For astronomers, OJ 287 has been an enigmatic celestial entity for over a century. The periodic flares observed from this distant galaxy have sparked curiosity, leading to decades of meticulous observation and study. The recent breakthrough, confirming the presence of a binary black hole system, has opened new avenues for understanding the intricate dance within OJ 287.

A Symphony of Light and Energy

The celestial choreography within OJ 287 is a mesmerizing interplay of gravitational forces and cosmic dynamics. As the smaller black hole orbits the larger one, it punctuates the cosmic dance with two plunges through the accretion disk. These orchestrated movements, like strokes on a celestial canvas, give rise to intense flares that radiate energy equivalent to a trillion Suns over the course of about a day.

Insights from Unprecedented Flares

The unexpected flares observed during the recent campaign have provided astronomers with valuable insights into the intricate dynamics at play:

  1. The One-Day Burst: Staszek Zola's discovery of a one-day burst, 100 times brighter than an entire galaxy, unveiled a previously unseen facet of OJ 287's behavior. This colossal flare, occurring as the secondary black hole consumed additional gas during its plunge, highlighted the dynamic nature of these cosmic interactions.
  2. Gamma-Ray Symphony: The Fermi satellite's detection of gamma rays added a cosmic crescendo to OJ 287's dance. These high-energy emissions, stemming from the interaction between the secondary black hole's jet and the accretion disk, provided astronomers with a unique signature of the cosmic waltz.

The Unique Orbital Complexities

OJ 287's binary system presents a celestial spirograph, where the smaller black hole's orbit is tilted at a significant angle compared to the accretion disk. This tilt, coupled with the eccentric orbit, results in the captivating pattern observed during each orbital cycle. The cosmic ballet continues, with the perigee "walking" around the larger hole in a celestial dance that repeats itself after approximately ten orbits.

Towards a Grand Finale: The Future Merger

The gravitational waves emitted by OJ 287's binary system offer a glimpse into the cosmic future. As these colossal black holes spiral together due to the loss of angular momentum through gravitational radiation, a grand merger awaits. In about 10,000 years, the cosmic dance of OJ 287 will culminate in a celestial crescendo, shaking the fabric of space and time.


OJ 287, a cosmic ballet of light and darkness, continues to captivate astronomers, offering unprecedented insights into the dynamic nature of supermassive black holes. As we gaze into the depths of the cosmos, the dance of OJ 287 beckons, inviting us to witness the cosmic drama that unfolds over the epochs, echoing through the corridors of space and time.


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