Scientists Spot Universe's Fastest-Growing Black Hole

HeraldScotland

A monster black hole has been discovered, and it's growing very fast (but it's far, far away)

Astronomers have just discovered a black hole that's growing faster than any other black hole yet found in the universe.

It takes a million years to grow by 1%, but given it's already estimated to be as big as 20 billion suns, that means the black hole, also known as a quasar, is growing by around 66.5 million Earths annually.

A "supermassive" black hole swallowing up the mass of our sun every two days has been found by Australian astronomers. What started as the size of about 20 billion suns has grown one percent every million years, into the cosmic behemoth we know now.

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

The discovery was then confirmed using a spectrograph at the university's Siding Spring Observatory 2.3 metre telescope.

Researchers at the Australian National University have discovered a monster.

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

Luckily, the black hole sits far beyond.

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This makes the newfound giant black hole the fastest-growing quasar in the known universe. "They must have grown at super rates for a long period of time; or they originate from massive seed black holes that formed during the dark early ages by direct collapse".

In a paper due to appear in Publications of the Astronomical Society of Australia, the ANU team explained that they spotted the fast-growing quasar by combining motion data from the European Space Agency's Gaia satellite with photometry from the SkyMapper and NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE).

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.

Dr Wolf said as these kinds of black holes shine, they can be used as beacons to see and study the formation of elements in the early galaxies of the Universe.

Dubbed J215728.21-360215.1, the supermassive black hole was recently noticed by the before-mentioned Dr. Wolf and his colleagues.

With giant new ground-based telescopes now under construction, scientists will also be able to use bright, distant objects like this voracious black hole to measure the universe's expansion, the researchers said.

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

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