Australian researchers have discovered what they’ve described as the fastest-growing black hole in the universe.
“This black hole is growing so rapidly that it’s shining thousands of times more brightly than an entire galaxy, due to all of the gases it sucks in daily that cause lots of friction and heat,” Dr. Christian Wolf, a researcher from the Australian National University who was on the team that made the discovery, said according to a statement.
Researchers believe that this “monster” of black hole consumes the mass equivalent to our sun every two days. If placed at the center of our Milky Way galaxy, it would not only “appear 10 times brighter than a full moon,” Wolf said, but it would also make life on Earth impossible due to the x-rays the black hole releases.
And according to Space.com, this black hole is distant enough that it likely released its light around 12 billion years ago, when the ANU researchers estimate that this black hole was as large as 20 billion suns, and grew 1% every million years.
Initially the SkyMapper telescope at the ANU Siding Spring Observatory discovered light from the black hole in the “near-infrared.” Data from European Space Agency’s Gaia satellite helped discover the black hole, and the spectrograph on the ANU 2.3 meter telescope confirmed the discovery.
The next step for researchers is to learn how it grew so large during the beginnings of our universe, and to find other fast-growing black holes like it.
“Fast-growing supermassive black holes also help to clear the fog around them by ionising gases,” Wolf said in a statement, “which makes the Universe more transparent.”
The researchers’ findings will be published in Publications of the Astronomical Society of Australia.