Letter | Published:

Is there a black hole in the sky?

Naturevolume 321pages419420 (1986) | Download Citation



The recent discovery1 that the two quasars, Hazard 1146+111B,C, separated by 157 arc s, are in fact two images of the same quasar raises the question: what massive object is responsible for gravitational lensing? Ultimately, the answer will be provided by observations of a few more pairs of images of other sources when it will be possible to analyse the mass distribution of the lens. One of the imaginable candidates is a supermassive black hole. No observational or theoretical argument can be presented in favour of this possibility at present. Should the future observations point to a compact supermassive lensing object, the presence of a black hole could be established by the unique property that it would appear against the microwave background as a black spot with a diameter of 0.1 arc s.

Access optionsAccess options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.


  1. 1

    Turner, E. L. et al. Nature 321, 142–144 (1986).

  2. 2

    Weinberg, S. Gravitation and Cosmology (Wiley, New York, 1972).

  3. 3

    Bardeen, J. M. Black Holes (eds De Witt, C. & De Witt, B. S.) 215–240 (Gordon & Breach, Edinburgh, 1972).

Download references

Author information


  1. Princeton University Observatory, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey, 08544, USA

    • Bohdan PaczyŃski


  1. Search for Bohdan PaczyŃski in:

About this article

Publication history



Issue Date



Further reading


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.