Australian scientists have discovered the fastest growing black hole known in the universe.
He said the record-breaking hole had been "hiding in plain sight" until about two weeks ago, when the European Space Agency released data that made it easier to identify black holes among the stars.
The light travelled for 12 billion years until it reached the SkyMapper telescope at the ANU Siding Spring Observatory. The black hole is about 20 billion times bigger than the Sun and growing at an unbelievable speed - 1% with each passing million years.
"If we had this monster sitting at the center of our Milky Way galaxy, it would appear ten times brighter than a full moon".
And it's a good thing this monster black hole isn't at the centre of our Milky Way.
"And it might mean that there were seeds to these black holes in the very early universe".
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We know that black holes get their extra mass because of the gravitational pull, through which they literally absorb materials around them, even light.
After traveling for more than 12 billion years, the quasar's light was detected by the SkyMapper in the near-infrared spectrum.
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. 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.
For those trying to unlock the secrets of the universe, the bigger a black hole is, the better. However, until now, scientists thought that black holes had a limit to their growth rate and, in theory, a black hole could not grow above that limitation.
At the same time, the rare quasar could shed more light - quite literally, as it shines bright enough to make nearby objects visible, notes ANU - into how elements are formed in the universe's oldest galaxies. "It would appear as an incredibly bright pin-point star that would nearly wash out all of the stars in the sky", said Dr. "Fast-growing supermassive black holes also help to clear the fog around them by ionizing gases, which makes the Universe more transparent".
Though the team has no idea how this monstrous black hole grew so big when the universe was still in its infancy, they plan to continue their search for other fast-growing black holes, possibly faster than this one, in the universe.