Tuesday, 22 May, 2018

This Bright Supermassive Black Hole Eats a Sun Every Two Days

Visualization of a Mega Black Hole Image by Jurik Pete | Shutterstock
Russell Knight | 16 May, 2018, 07:57

Black holes are so dense and their gravitational pull is so strong that no form of radiation can escape them - not even light.

Luckily, though, the black hole is far enough away that it likely released its light more than 12 billion years ago, the researchers said. The very big gap, codenamed QSO SMSS J215728.21-360215.1, is the stunning size of around 20 billion suns and develops at a rate of 200 million suns over a million years.

A team of researchers recently discovered this supermassive black hole with the SkyMapper telescope at the Australian National University's Siding Spring Observatory, and in a new study, unveiled clues about its nature.

Power-hungry, self-aggrandizing, and intense, the fastest-growing black hole known in the universe is devouring mass equivalent to our sun every two days. And it has been growing an estimated 1 percent every 1 million years. That may seem an extraordinarily long time to humans, but is minuscule in the time span of the universe.

Wolf said that if the black hole had been located at the central position of the Milky Way galaxy, it would have appeared near about ten times brighter as compared to a full moon.

"During the birth of the universe, some really massive seeds were created that these black holes then formed around".

This makes the newfound giant black hole the fastest-growing quasar in the known universe.

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The quasar was found by poring over data from the ESA Gaia satellite, the NASA Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE), and the ANU SkyMapper telescope.

'It would appear as an incredible bright pin-point star that would nearly wash out all of the stars in the sky'.

Over billions of light years, the waves of light experienced a red shift.

"These enormous fast-growing black holes also help to clear the fog that surrounds them with ionizing gases, which makes the Universe more transparent", he added.

What's making astronomers so curious is that the black hole they saw was in the early days of the universe and they're wondering how it grew so large.

The breakthrough was made because of the precision of the European Space Agency's Gaia mission, which allows the Earth-bound SkyMapper to more precisely bypass the "contamination" from cool stars in the Milky Way, which may get in the way.

What puzzles Wolf is how it grew so large, so quickly when the universe was just a toddler, but despite the fact that black holes this big are "exceedingly rare", the ANU team are already on the hunt for other, faster-growing quasars.

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