Monster black hole discovered growing very fast - far, far away

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.

Researchers spotted the incredible supermassive black hole using the SkyMapper telescope at the ANU Siding Spring Observatory, peeing more than 12 billion years into the universe's past. Apparently, what baffled the scientists was that this black hole expands at such an accelerated pace that, in accordance to the current theories, it must have about 20 billion times the mass of our Sun.

Dr Christian Wolf and his team at Australian National University's Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics were behind the discovery.

Astronomers just spotted what they think is the fastest-growing black hole ever discovered in the Universe, and it's got a voracious appetite, sucking in the equivalent of the mass of our Sun every two days. As discovered by the scientists, the object was evolving at the rate of 1 percent in every one million years. That may seem an extraordinarily long time to humans, but is minuscule in the time span of the universe.

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

Such supermassive black holes, also called quasars, can actually emit energy.

In fact, if this "monster" black hole was at the heart of our galaxy, its enormous X-ray output would likely make life on Earth impossible, he said. Therefore, they are now looking for other fast-growing formations that might be comparable to this one. "It would appear as an incredibly bright pinpoint star that would nearly wash out all of the stars in the sky", he added.

Space experts have detected the greediest supermassive dark opening experiencing the speediest development spurt around 12 billion years back.

Its size is also impressive, as it measures about as much as 20 billion suns put together.

The researchers followed up their detection with data from the Gaia satellite, and confirmed it as a supermassive black hole using the spectrograph on the ANU 2.3 meter telescope.

"While objects of this luminosity are exceedingly rare in the Universe, they are particularly valuable as bright background and reference sources in order to study the properties of intervening matter along the line-of-sight, and for directly probing the expansion of our Universe with new instruments in the coming decades", the authors reported.

"We don't know how this one grew so large, so quickly in the early days of the universe", Wolf says.

"And it might mean that there were seeds to these black holes in the very early universe". It is not known, however, how a black hole could grow so large, so early in the universe, and the ANU team is already on the hunt for other, faster-growing quasars to learn more.

  • Eleanor Harrison