This Bright Supermassive Black Hole Eats a Sun Every Two Days

HeraldScotland

This Bright Supermassive Black Hole Eats a Sun Every Two Days

The mega black hole that is said to be growing faster than any black hole in the universe today was found by scientists from the Australian National University (ANU).

"If we had this monster sitting at the centre of our Milky Way galaxy, it would appear 10 times brighter than a full Moon".

The supermassive black hole, or quasar, is thought to have been present in the early universe - when our now 13.8-billion-year-old universe was around 1.2 billion years old - and is such a monster, it swallows the mass of our own sun every two days.

Astronomers are stumped by its enormous size and can't quite tell how the supermassive black hole grew that much so rapidly at a time when the universe was still so young.

However, the supermassive black hole is at a distance of 12 billion light-years, meaning that what the astronomers saw happened 12 billion years ago.

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.

However, the recently discovered monstrous black hole is so huge that, even if it had formed right after the Big Bang and expanded at the highest possible rate, it would have absorbed stars with masses higher than our Sun's mass by several thousands times to be as big as the astronomers observed it recently. 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.

And it's a good thing this monster black hole isn't at the centre of our Milky Way.

Dr Wolf and his team have spent six months searching for "exceedingly rare" large and rapidly-growing black holes using the state-of-the-art SkyMapper telescope.

As well as its ravenous appetite, it would likely emit so many x-rays, that life on earth probably would not exist.

"As the Universe expands, space expands and that stretches the light waves and changes their colour", Dr Wolf said.

"We don't have to be afraid of that. It is very far away", he said.

However, he did then add the caveat: "It's billions of light years away, so don't cancel your weekend plans".

"Maybe this will tell us something insane about the Big Bang that we never dreamt of or thought possible", he said.

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

The findings have been accepted for publication in the Publications of the Astronomical Society of Australia (PASA).

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