Published: Tue, May 15, 2018
Sci-tech | By Brandy Patterson

Astronomers find fastest-growing black hole known in space

Astronomers find fastest-growing black hole known in space

"Black holes at the centres of galaxies reach masses of over ten billion times that of our sun", the researchers write in their paper.

New York Times columnist and science writer Carl Zimmer tweeted in response to the ANU press release stating: "Astronomers find a hungry black hole that could gobble up our sun in two days". The giant object is known to be devouring a mass similar to that of the sun in every 2 days. Its glow is produced by a huge mass of gas which it constantly draws to itself.

"This black hole is growing so rapidly that it's shining thousands of times more brightly than an entire galaxy, due to all of the gases it sucks in daily that cause lots of friction and heat", said Dr Wolf from the ANU Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics.

Essentially the Donald Trump of quasars, this supermassive black hole dates back more than 12 billion years, to the early dark ages of the universe.

The find, which came after months of months of SkyMapper scanning, was further confirmed by European Space Agency's Gaia satellite.

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The team found this supermassive black hole by combining data from the ESA's Gaia satellite, NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) and ANU's SkyMapper telescope.

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

For those trying to unlock the secrets of the universe, the bigger a black hole is, the better. 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.

Wolf painted a vivid picture of what the supermassive black hole would look like from Earth if it were located in the center of our galaxy.

Luckily, the black hole sits far beyond.

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Wolf explained that fast-growing supermassive black holes can be used as beacons to study everything around them, because they're so bright that astronomers can spot the shadows of other objects passing in front of them.

The capsule, he said, helped to confirm that the far-away object was a candidate to be a very large quasar.

Dr Wolf said instruments on very large ground-based telescopes being built over the next decade would be able to directly measure the expansion of the Universe using these very bright black holes.

"Surprisingly we have found such massive black holes already in the early universe, just 800 million years after the Big Bang".

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