It’s not easy growing a supermassive black hole

7.00pm to 8.30pm, Tuesday 25 May

The Royal Institution of Great Britain GB United Kingdom W1S 4BS 21 Albemarle Street London
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  • Artist's impression of a supermassive black hole at the centre of a galaxy

    Credit: ESO / L. Calçada


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Event description

When we think of black holes, we often think of them as endless hoovers, sucking up anything around them. In reality, it’s very difficult to grow a black hole; to get matter close enough to that point of no return. Instead, most matter will happily orbit a black hole. Just like the Earth orbits the Sun, the Sun orbits a supermassive black hole at the centre of the Milky Way over 4 million times more massive than the Sun itself.

Join astrophysicist Rebecca Smethurst as she reveals how supermassive black holes like this got so big. 

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About the speaker

Becky Smethurst is an astrophysicist at the University of Oxford and star of astronomy-themed YouTube channel Dr Becky. Her current research is trying to answer the question 'how do galaxies and black holes evolve together?'. Her YouTube channel, Dr Becky, where each week she explains either an unsolved mystery, a weird object found in space or general space news with an unnatural level of enthusiasm, has over 200,000 subscribers (and counting!). Her debut public science book ‘Space: 10 things you should know’ was named one of Sky at Night Magazine’s top 20 books of 2019.


The live stream will go live at 6.55pm, and the introduction will begin at 7.00pm. If you register but miss the live stream, the video will be available to you via the same link for up to a week after the event date.

The Royal Institution is part of the Amazon Affiliate Programme and book links on this page are affiliate links, which means it won't cost you any extra but we may earn a small commission if you decide to purchase through the link. All procceeds help support the charitable work of the Ri. Affiliate disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate The Royal Institution earns from qualifying purchases.

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