Published: Tue, May 15, 2018
Science | By Michele Flores

Fast Growing Mega Black Hole Discovered by Researchers

Fast Growing Mega Black Hole Discovered by Researchers

The mammoth black hole also emanates vast amounts of radiated X-rays, which would probably "make life on Earth impossible", the astronomer pointed out.

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".

And Dr Christian Wolf and his team at the ANU's Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics have found a monster.

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. They occasionally swallow stars, other celestial bodies and gas and emit a portion of the captured matter in the form of jets beams of heated plasma moving at relativistic speeds.

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 said that the super-huge black holes could be used like beacons for seeing and studying the evolution of objects in the "early galaxies of the universe" due to their shine.

"If we had this monster sitting at the centre of our Milky Way galaxy, it would appear 10 times brighter than a full moon", Wolf added. Just like the massive cluster of 14 galaxies recently discovered in a South Pole Telescope survey, the giant black hole dates back more than 12 billion years to the early beginnings of our universe.

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The SkyMapper telescope at the ANU Siding Spring Observatory detected this light in the near-infrared, as the light waves had red-shifted over the billions of light years to Earth. 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. Pictured, a bright supermassive black hole.

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

Dr Wolf said one benefit from finding black holes is they act as backlighting to everything else out in the cosmos, making it easier to see.

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.

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

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