Published: Wed, May 16, 2018
Finance | By Loren Pratt

Found: A Rapidly Expanding Supermassive Black Hole

Found: A Rapidly Expanding Supermassive Black Hole

Astronomers estimate that this mystifying quasar is 20 billion times the mass of our sun and is growing at an incredibly fast rate of one percent every one million years.

The so-called supermassive black hole is more than 12 billion light years away and thought to be the size of 20 billion of our suns.

"It would appear 10 times brighter than a full moon and nearly wash out all of the stars in the sky".

As Dr. Christian Wolf of the Australian National University explained, this finding represents a big problem for astrophysics which, until now, was pretty much sure that supernovae turn into black holes which are up to 50 solar masses and can not exceed this limitation.

The researchers spotted light from the object in the near-infrared.

We're lucky that the black hole is billions of light-years away, or the radiation emitted would destroy any life in our galaxy.

But don't panic - Dr Wolf says it won't suck us in.

The breakthrough was made because of the precision of the European Space Agency's Gaia mission, which allows the Earth-bound SkyMapper to more precisely bypass the "contamination" from cool stars in the Milky Way, which may get in the way.

Not only that, it would also wipe out all life on Earth, thanks to the X-rays being beamed out as the black hole goes on its matter feeding frenzy.


Hence, it is fortunate for the mankind that the black hole is located far beyond.

If black holes were already a total mystery to scientists, they now face a much greater mystery.

Initially the SkyMapper telescope at the ANU Siding Spring Observatory discovered light from the black hole in the "near-infrared".

The study was published May 11 in the Publications of the Astronomical Society of Australia. Scientists believe that primordial black holes were formed right after the Big Bang while stellar black holes occur when a massive star collapses in itself.

"The hunt is on to find even faster-growing black holes", said Wolf. It measures tiny movements in deep-space celestial objects and was able to determine that the object discovered by the team at ANU was sitting still and is likely to be a supermassive black hole.

The discovery of the new supermassive black hole was confirmed using the spectrograph on the ANU 2.3 metre telescope to split colours into spectral lines.

What's making astronomers so curious is that the black hole they saw was in the early days of the universe and they're wondering how it grew so large.

Wolf and his team combed through huge banks of data to find this mega black hole.

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