'Monster' black hole consuming the Sun's mass every two days

James Marshall
May 15, 2018

He said instruments being built over the next decade would also be able to directly measure the expansion of the universe using bright black holes like the one just discovered.

There is a supermassive black hole at the centre of our own galaxy, but compared to this one, it's a lightweight.

Supermassive black holes, or quasars, are hard to find among the billions of stars in the universe.

Wolf said if it was at the centre of the Milky Way, it would appear 10 times brighter than a full moon as a pin-point star that would nearly wash out all the stars in the sky.

The study was published May 11 in the Publications of the Astronomical Society of Australia. This also helped with its detection as light waves from the black hole red-shifted during their long journey to Earth, allowing the astronomers to use ANU's SkyMapper telescope to detect them in near-infrared.

The so-called supermassive black hole is more than 12 billion light years away and thought to be the size of 20 billion of our suns.

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Astronomers found the fastest growing black hole outside the Milky Way. Wolf further added that it would have appeared as an unbelievably bright "pin-point star", which could wash out almost every star present in the celestial sphere.

Astronomers estimate that this mystifying quasar is 20 billion times the mass of our sun and is growing at an incredibly fast rate of one percent every one million years. It emits light that is a thousand times brighter than an entire galaxy due to the heat and friction caused by all the gases it absorbed.

"As the Universe expands, space expands and that stretches the light waves and changes their color", Wolf added.

The Gaia satellite confirmed the object found by the SkyMapper telescope was relatively motionless and thus at a great distance, making it a large quasar candidate. Meanwhile, the Gaia satellite, which measures tiny motions of celestial objects, identified the back hole as a stationary object, which suggested it was very large and very far away.

According to the scientists, we are fortunate that this mega black hole is not sitting at the center of our galaxy.

"We're now trying to get demographics on the most extreme black holes that are out there so we can create a complete inventory".

Although Wolf's team is uncertain how the black hole grew so big during the early days of the universe, he said they are on to find similar giant ones.

At the same time, the rare quasar could shed more light - quite literally, as it shines bright enough to make nearby objects visible, notes ANU - into how elements are formed in the universe's oldest galaxies.

"And it might mean that there were seeds to these black holes in the very early universe".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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