Monster black hole discovered growing very fast - far, far away

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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". What started as the size of about 20 billion suns has grown one percent every million years, into the cosmic behemoth we know now.

He adds that "if we had this monster sitting at the center of our Milky Way galaxy, it would appear 10 times brighter than a full moon. It would appear as an incredibly bright pin-point star that would nearly wash out all of the stars in the sky". They then used the Gaia satellite to measure that the object was sitting still, thereby also confirming that it was incredibly distant and likely a supermassive black hole, the researchers said.

The black hole was spotted by the SkyMapper telescope at the ANU Siding Spring Observatory in near infrared light with help from the European Space Agency's Gaia satellite.

Christian Wolf at the Australian National University (ANU) said that no one has an idea as to how the object grew to be so big so fast in the Universe's early days. Improved technology on ground-based telescopes coming online over the next decade will also be able to directly measure the expansion of the universe using the very bright black holes.

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The supermassive black hole, also known as a quasar, is very ancient.

A team of scientists just discovered the fastest growing mega black hole in the universe to date.

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

"As the Universe expands, space expands and that stretches the light waves and changes their colour", Wolf explained.

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There is a supermassive black hole at the centre of our own galaxy, but compared to this one, it is a lightweight.

"In the past, people perhaps went for black holes that were easier to identify because they looked a bit different", Dr Wolf said.

Dubbed J215728.21-360215.1, the supermassive black hole was recently noticed by the before-mentioned Dr. Wolf and his colleagues.

However, the recently discovered monstrous black hole is so huge that, even if it had formed right after the Big Bang and expanded at the highest possible rate, it would have absorbed stars with masses higher than our Sun's mass by several thousands times to be as big as the astronomers observed it recently.

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In addition, these fast-growing quasars help clear the fog around transiting objects, "which makes the universe more transparent", said Wolf.