London, Jan 16 (Agencies): This black hole is large enough to swallow our entire solar system and weighs as much as 6.8 billion suns. The M87 black hole is the largest such phenomenon identified so far. Previous estimates had it as only three billion times the weight of the sun.

Scientists used a specially adapted telescope in Hawaii to observe it and discovered that it was more than twice as heavy as had been previously thought, catapulting it into the record books.

It was observed in M87, by far the largest and most distant galaxy in the nearby universe, some 50 million light years away, the Daily Mail reported.

The researchers said it may have formed as a result of hundreds of smaller black holes merging into one at some point in the past, according to a University of Texas statement.

As a point of comparison, the black hole at the centre of the Milky Way is 1,000 times smaller.

Astronomer Karl Gebhardt of the University of Texas in Austin, US said: 'It (M87) could swallow our solar system whole.'