Australian astronomers find a cosmic 'monster' that's growing fast

Australian astronomers find a cosmic 'monster' that's growing fast

Australian astronomers find a cosmic 'monster' that's growing fast

"Black holes at the centres of galaxies reach masses of over ten billion times that of our sun", the researchers write in their paper.

For those trying to unlock the secrets of the universe, the bigger a black hole is, the better.

"Scientists can see the shadows of objects in front of the supermassive black hole", he said.

"Fast-growing supermassive black holes also help to clear the fog around them by ionising gases, which makes the universe more transparent".

New York Times columnist and science writer Carl Zimmer tweeted in response to the ANU press release stating: "Astronomers find a hungry black hole that could gobble up our sun in two days".

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This supermassive black hole sits at the center of a quasar known by the catchy name of SMSS~J215728.21-360215.1.

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.

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

"If we had this monster sitting at the centre of our Milky Way galaxy, it would appear 10 times brighter than a full Moon. Its growth rate, half a solar mass per day, is nearly double the previous record", explained the scientists.

After traveling for more than 12 billion years, the quasar's light was detected by the SkyMapper in the near-infrared spectrum. 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.

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"And it might mean that there were seeds to these black holes in the very early universe".

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"As the universe expands, space expands and that stretches the light waves and changes their color", Wolf clarified. The studied black hole reportedly draws off light of large amounts thereby outshining the entire galaxy. This black hole in the latest discussion has been spotted by the Gaia satellite of the European Space Agency, which calculated the small motions of the celestial bodies.

Dr Wolf said the Gaia satellite confirmed the object that they had found was sitting still, meaning that it was far away and it was a candidate to be a very large quasar.

That said, they think improving technology and advanced ground-based telescopes coming over the next decade should be able to leverage black holes like these to understand how our universe has been growing.

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