Australian astronomers find black hole as big as 20 billion suns

HeraldScotland

HeraldScotland

A team of Australian scientists have just discovered a monster black hole that would be ready to engorge our Sun anytime.

"If we had this monster sitting at the centre of our Milky Way galaxy, it would appear 10 times brighter than a full Moon". It emits light that is a thousand times brighter than an entire galaxy due to the heat and friction caused by all the gases it absorbed.

With giant new ground-based telescopes now under construction, scientists will also be able to use bright, distant objects like this voracious black hole to measure the universe's expansion, the researchers said. Wolf's team used the SkyMapper telescope at the ANU Siding Spring Observatory to detect the light in the near-infrared, because it had red-shifted over the billions of light years towards Earth.

Astronomers are not yet sure how this black hole grew so large, so quickly in the early days of the universe. 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. Apart from absorbing gases, it would have emanated all kinds of radiations that would have made life on Earth impossible.

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This supermassive black hole is about the size of 20 billion stars, and it continues to grow at a rate of 1 percent per 1 million years.

If the sun were to fall into this incredibly dense cosmic object, it would only take two days for the black hole to devour it, the scientists behind the new discovery have said.

Dr. Christian Wolf, from ANU's Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics, explains that the rapidly expanding quasar puts on a spectacular light show as it engulfs everything around it.

A black hole is an intense gravitational pull that sucks in everything in its path, including light. 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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"As the Universe expands, space expands and that stretches the light waves and changes their color", Wolf added.

"The hunt is on to find even faster-growing black holes", said Wolf.

The study was published May 11 in the Publications of the Astronomical Society of Australia.

The capsule, he said, helped to confirm that the far-away object was a candidate to be a very large quasar.

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They looked at the quasar named SMSS~J215728.21-360215.1, and in its center, they saw a supermassive black hole that shines brightly.

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