Scientists Say: Yottawatt

This is one million billion billion watts of power

black holes

When these two black holes collided, scientists estimated the power coming out not in kilowatts or in megawatts, but in yottawatts.


Yottawatt (noun, “YOT-ah-wat”)

One million billion billion watts. A watt is used to measure the flow of energy that is used, released or converted from one form to another. A kilowatt is 1,000 watts. Most home energy use is described as the number of kilowatts steadily used over an hour. But a yottawatt? That’s the measure scientists use for the energy released when black holes go crashing into each other.

In a sentence

When two black holes merged together, they released 36 septillion yottawatts of power.

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Power Words

(for more about Power Words, click here)

watt    A measure of the rate of energy use, flux (or flow) or production. It is equivalent to one joule per second. It describes the rate of energy converted from one form to another — or moved — per unit of time. For instance, a kilowatt is 1,000 watts, and household energy use is typically measured and quantified in terms of kilowatt-hours, or equal to the number of kilowatts used steadily throughout an hour.

yottawatt One million billion billion watts.


Bethany Brookshire was a longtime staff writer at Science News Explores and is the author of the book Pests: How Humans Create Animal Villains. She has a Ph.D. in physiology and pharmacology and likes to write about neuroscience, biology, climate and more. She thinks Porgs are an invasive species.

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