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Astronomers have discovered the brightest and fastest growing black hole that has existed for the last 9 billion years. The enormous cosmic entity is 3 billion times more massive than that sun and swallows one Earth– Size of a part of matter every second.
The new supermassive black hole, known as J1144, is about 500 times as much as the Sagittarius A *, the supermassive black hole in the heart of The Milky Waywhich was recently photographed for the first time. A ring with super hot plasma around the huge void also emits around 7000 times more light than our entire galaxy.
Australian astronomers discovered the cosmic juggernaut using data from the Australian National University’s SkyMapper Southern Sky Survey, which aims to map the entire sky of the southern hemisphere. Finding the supermassive black hole was like finding a “very large, unexpected needle in the haystack,” the researchers said in a statement (opens in new tab).
“Astronomers have been hunting for such objects for more than 50 years,” said lead researcher Christopher Onken, an astronomer at the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra, in the statement. “They have found thousands of weaker, but this astonishingly bright had passed unnoticed.”
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The voracious appetite of the black hole dwarfs the appetite of other similarly huge supermassive black holes. Normally, the growth rate of these huge cosmic entities decreases as they become more massive, according to the statement. This is probably due to increased Hawking radiation – thermal radiation that is theorized to be released from black holes due to the effects of quantum mechanics.
The newly discovered black hole eats up so much matter that its event horizon – the boundary past which nothing, including light, can escape – is unusually wide. “The orbits of the planets this spring the solar system would all fit into its event horizon, “said co-author Samuel Lai, an ANU astronomer, in the statement.
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Black holes can not be seen because they do not emit any light. But astronomers can detect black holes because they are intense gravity draws matter toward the event horizon so rapidly that this matter becomes superheated plasma; this emits light in a ring around the black hole, called an accretion disk. The newly discovered behemoth’s accretion disk is the brightest that astronomers have ever discovered, due to its enormous event horizon and the extreme speed at which it draws in matter. Researchers are “pretty sure” that this is a record that will never be broken, according to the statement.
The boundary of the black hole is so bright that even amateur astronomers would be able to see it with a powerful enough telescope trained on exactly the right part of the sky, the scientists said.
The team is now trying to figure out why the massive black hole remains so unusually hungry for matter. Scientists suspect that a catastrophic cosmic event must be responsible for the birth of this giant void. “Maybe two large galaxies crashed into each other, pulling a whole lot of material on the black hole to feed it,” Onken said.
However, it can be difficult to find out exactly how it was formed. Scientists are skeptical that we will ever find a similar massive and rapidly expanding black hole again, making it difficult to test a general theory of the formation of such voracious cosmic objects.
“This black hole is so extreme that even if you never say never, I do not think we will find another like this,” co-author Christian Wolf, an ANU astronomer and group leader for SkyMapper, said in the statement. “We’ve really run out of sky where objects like this can hide.”
However, some researchers predict that there are as many as 40 quintillion black holes in the universewhich can make up around 1% of all matter in the universe, so the odds that there may still be an even more furious black hole out there somewhere are not zero.
The study was submitted June 8 to preprint databases arXiv but has not yet been peer-reviewed. If accepted, it will be published in the Publications of the Astronomical Society of Australia.
Originally published on Live Science.