A professor from the University of Leicester claimed in a new scientific study that black holes are capable of growing 50 billion times the mass of the sun.
According to the author of the study, this is possible as long as the disk feeding the black hole continues to orbit around it.
As explained by Gizmodo, these disks are composed of gas and dust and swirls around black holes. As these spin toward the center of the black holes, the discs heat up and cause them to shine. This effect lights up the surrounding area of the black holes, which is why scientists are able to see and observe them in space.
As the disks continue to feed the black holes, the latter grow bigger. However, as they get larger, the disks around them become more unstable. Eventually, these gaseous disks will lose their energy and get sucked into the black holes or crumble into stars.
But, as noted by professor Andrew King of the Department of Physics and Astronomy in University of Leicester in England, black holes can grow to enormous sizes before their disks disappear. Specifically, the professor noted that they can get as big as 50 billion suns.
"The significance of this discovery is that astronomers have found black holes of almost the maximum mass by observing the huge amount of radiation given off by the gas disk as it falls in," he said in a press statement.
"The mass limit means that this procedure should not turn up any masses much bigger than those we know because there would not be a luminous disk," he added.
King noted that this is the size limit but it is possible that gigantic black holes could get even bigger if it collides with another black hole or if a star falls into it, according to I4U News.
However, since a massive black hole will no longer have a disc orbiting it, scientists will not be able to see it in space.
"Bigger black hole masses are in principle possible - for example, a hole near the maximum mass could merge with another black hole, and the result would be bigger still," King explained. "But no light would be produced in this merger, and the bigger merged black hole could not have a disk of gas that would make light."
King's study, titled "How Big can a Black Hole Grow" was published on December 21 in the Astronomy Magazine.