An international team of astronomers have discovered an ancient black hole that is so big, the theory of how a black hole grows is being challenged.
The discovery was described in a study published in Nature. Scientists said this black hole was formed about 900 million years after the Big Bang. But with measurements indicating it is 12 billion times the size of our Sun and it was at the center of a quasar that put out a million billion times more energy than our own Sun, the black hole challenges a widely accepted hypothesis of growth rates.
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“Based on previous research, this is the largest black hole found for that period of time,” Fuyan Bian, Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Australian National University (ANU), told Reuters. “Current theory is for a limit to how fast a black hole can grow, but this black hole is too large for that theory.”
The black hole was found by a team of global scientists led by Xue-Bing Wu at Peking University, China, as part of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. The ANU has its own project that is known as SkyMapper, which observes the Southern Hemisphere sky.
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The creation of super massive black holes remains an open topic of research. However, many scientists have long believed the growth rate of black holes was limited. Black holes grow, scientific theory suggests, as they absorb mass. However, as mass is absorbed, it will be heated, creating radiation pressure that pushes the mass away from the black hole. “Basically, you have two forces balanced together which sets up a limit for growth, which is much smaller than what we found,” said Bian, reported NBC News.