Australian astronomers find black hole as big as 20 billion suns

Visualization of a Mega Black Hole

Visualization of a Mega Black Hole

This supermassive black hole is the fastest-growing quasar in the known universe. The team looked into the early universe to find the black hole.

"What's really important in this business is now to actually find the most massive ones because they are the hardest ones to explain", he says.

The energy coming from the fastest growing black hole is mostly ultraviolet light and radiated x-rays, and experts have stated that if the hole were to exist in the Milky Way galaxy life would be impossible on Earth.

"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 Wolf.

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While researchers were looking at the early universe, they stumbled upon this monster black hole. 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.

Christian Wolf of the ANU's Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics said.

To give a sense of scale, the fastest growing black hole is around the size of 20 billion stars - continuing to grow at a rate of 1% per 1 million years.

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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.

The light travelled for 12 billion years until it reached the SkyMapper telescope at the ANU Siding Spring Observatory.

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

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

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.

Hence, it is fortunate for the mankind that the black hole is located far beyond.

Astronomers are not yet sure how this black hole grew so large, so quickly in the early days of the universe.

The study, titled "Discovery of the most ultra-luminous QSO using Gaia, SkyMapper, and WISE", will be detailed in Publications of the Astronomical Society of Australia and the arXiv preprint is available online.

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