How does supermassive black hole differ from a black hole?

1 Answer
Mar 6, 2016

Supermassive black holes are hugely massive and are only known to be at the centres of galaxies.


There are three types of black hole.
Ones created in the early universe which are about the size of atoms.
Stellar black holes caused by the collapse of stars between 5 and tens of times the mass of the sun.
Supermassive black holes with masses in the order of millions of times the mass of the sun.

The first two types of black hole can occur anywhere.

Supermassive black holes on the other hand exist at the centres of galaxies. In fact it is thought that every galaxy requires a supermassive black hole at its centre to drive its evolution.

One important feature of a supermassive black hole is that if it acquires an accretion disc of matter falling into it, the friction and gravitational stress on the material can cause massive emissions of energy which are known as quasars. Smaller black holes cannot become the power house of a quasar.