Scientists Spot Universe's Fastest-Growing Black Hole


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

As Dr. Christian Wolf of the Australian National University explained, this finding represents a big problem for astrophysics which, until now, was pretty much sure that supernovae turn into black holes which are up to 50 solar masses and can not exceed this limitation.

Dr Christian Wolf and his team at Australian National University's Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics were behind the discovery.

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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. They occasionally swallow stars, other celestial bodies and gas and emit a portion of the captured matter in the form of jets beams of heated plasma moving at relativistic speeds.

He said the record-breaking hole had been "hiding in plain sight" until about two weeks ago, when the European Space Agency released data that made it easier to identify black holes among the stars.

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. "It would appear as an incredibly bright pin-point star that would nearly wash out all of the stars in the sky". In fact, the supermassive black hole is so far away that its ultraviolet light red-shifted before it reached our planet and was picked up by the SkyMapper telescope at the ANU Siding Spring Observatory.

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"That one has a mass of 5 million solar masses - that is 40,000 times less mass than the one that we have now found", Dr Wolf explained.

"These large and rapidly-growing blackholes are exceedingly rare, and we have been searching for them with SkyMapper for several months now", says Wolf. Wolf said that the reason is that the large amount of gases it takes in every day causes much heat and friction.

READ NEXT: What are black holes? "It is very far away", he said. Just like the massive cluster of 14 galaxies recently discovered in a South Pole Telescope survey, the giant black hole dates back more than 12 billion years to the early beginnings of our universe.

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That said, they think improving technology and advanced ground-based telescopes coming over the next decade should be able to leverage black holes like these to understand how our universe has been growing. That would be right after the Big Bang.