SkyMapper Telescope Detects Fastest Growing Black Hole In The Universe

Katie Ramirez
May 15, 2018

The supermassive black hole is so powerful, that if it were at the centre of the Milky Way, all life on earth would be impossible.

Astronomers have found the fastest-growing black hole ever discovered.

The find, which came after months of months of SkyMapper scanning, was further confirmed by European Space Agency's Gaia satellite.

This supermassive quasar was around when the 13.8-billion-year-old universe was only about 1.2 billion years old.

"We estimate that this black hole has a mass of at least 20 billion times the mass of the Sun".

Wolf said if it was at the centre of the Milky Way, it would appear 10 times brighter than a full moon as a pin-point star that would nearly wash out all the stars in the sky. They described the black hole as a "monster" that reportedly devours a mass equivalent to the size of our Sun every two days.

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

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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A black hole is an intense gravitational pull that sucks in everything in its path including light.

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

Such large and rapidly growing black holes are extremely rare, with the latest spotted by the European Space Agency's Gaia satellite as it measured tiny motions of celestial objects. 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.

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.

"Surprisingly we have found such massive black holes already in the early universe, just 800 million years after the Big Bang".

Wolf painted a vivid picture of what the supermassive black hole would look like from Earth if it were located in the center of our galaxy. It emits light that is a thousand times brighter than an entire galaxy due to the heat and friction caused by all the gases it absorbed.

"As supermassive black holes shine, they can be used as beacons to see and study the formation of elements in the early galaxies of the universe", he added.

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