- Astronomers detected a fastest growing black hole located more than 12 billion light years away from Earth.
- The size of this supermassive black hole is equivalent to 20 billion Suns and it is growing 1% every 1 million years.
- It will help researchers study the formation of matter in the early galaxies.
Objects with enormously high gravitational field (which even light can’t escape) were first suggested in the 18th century, and the modern solution of general relativity to portray a black hole was first discovered in 1916.
Since then, we have come a long way. A couple of years back, scientists detected gravitational waves representing the merger of black holes. As of May 2018, 6 gravitational wave events have been identified that emerged from merging black holes.
Now astronomers at the Australian National University have detected the brightest quasar, and fastest growing black hole in the distant space that consumes a mass equivalent to half of our Sun every day.
How Far and Big Is This Black Hole?
The black hole, J2157-3602, is located more than 12 billion light years away from Earth. They find this beast using the SkyMapper telescope (fully automated 1.35 meters wide-angle optical telescope) in northern New South Wales, Australia. The telescope identified high-redshift Quasi-stellar object with highest known unlensed ultraviolet luminosity.
What we are seeing is a 12 billion years old image (not exactly an image, but data) in early dark ages of the Universe. The size of the black hole is equivalent to 20 billion Suns and it is growing 1% every 1 million years.
According to the researchers, the supermassive black hole is expanding too rapidly that it is glowing over thousand times more brightly as compared to the whole galaxy. If you’re wondering how darkest objects in the galaxy could possibly shine so brightly, it is because of the matter they suck that causes a huge amount of friction and heat.
If this black hole was located at the center of the Milky Way galaxy, it would appear ten times brighter than our moon. And since it is emitting a tremendous amount of X-rays, it would make life on Earth nearly impossible.
Scientists don’t know how this black hole expanded so rapidly in the early ages of the Universe. However, ESA’s Gaia satellite found this object still, making it a candidate of a large quasar.
Finding optically bright quasars is crucial for several reasons-
- They point to massive black holes.
- They ionize neutral gas around them, contributing to cosmic re-ionization.
- They unveil the metal enrichment in early phases of the universe.
- They could enable most sensitive direct observation of the expansion of the Universe.
Image credit: ESA advanced concepts team; S. Brunier / ESO
The researchers continue to find even faster-growing supermassive black holes out there. They can be extremely useful in observing and studying the formation of early galaxies’ elements in the Universe.
With current technology, astronomers can observe the shadows of big celestial bodies in front of the black hole. Discovery of other black holes that are growing rapidly could enable us to clear the fog around them by ionizing gases, making the Universe even more transparent.
Moreover, the next-generation large scale telescopes would allow researchers to use bright black holes to directly measure the expansion of the Universe.