The Fastest-Growing Black Hole Known in Space Has Been Discovered

A bright, supermassive black hole. (Credit: NASA)
A bright, supermassive black hole. (Credit: NASA)

Astronomers at ANU have found the fastest-growing black hole known in the Universe, describing it as a monster that devours a mass equivalent to our sun every two days.

The astronomers have looked back more than 12 billion years to the early dark ages of the Universe, when this supermassive black hole was estimated to be the size of about 20 billion suns, with a 1 percent growth rate every 1 million years. Dr. Wolf, from the ANU Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics, said:

Dr. Wolf said the energy emitted from this newly discovered supermassive black hole, also known as a quasar, was mostly ultraviolet light, but it also radiated X-rays, adding:

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. Dr. Wolf explained:

Dr. Wolf said the Gaia satellite confirmed the object that they had found was sitting still, meaning that it was far away and it was a candidate to be a very large quasar. The discovery of the new supermassive black hole was confirmed using the spectrograph on the ANU 2.3 meter telescope to split colors into spectral lines.

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.

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.

Provided by: Australian National University [Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.]

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