Thursday, March 23, 2023

Astronomers find fastest growing black hole of last 9 billion years

An international team of astronomers has discovered the fastest growing black hole in the past nine billion years.

The black hole consumes the equivalent of one Earth every second and shines 7,000 times brighter than all the light from our own galaxy, making it visible to well-equipped backyard astronomers, the Australian National University (ANU) team said. .

ANU lead researcher Dr Christopher Onken described the black hole as “a very large, unpredictable needle in a haystack”.

“Astronomers have been hunting for objects like this for more than 50 years. They’ve discovered thousands of faint ones, but this surprisingly bright one went unnoticed,” Onken said.

The black hole has a mass of three billion suns. Others of comparable size stopped growing so rapidly billions of years ago.

“Now we want to know why it’s different — did something catastrophic happen? Maybe the two large galaxies crashed into each other, completely funneling material onto the black hole to feed it,” Onken said.

The visual magnitude of a black hole is 14.5 – a measure of how bright an object appears to an observer on Earth.

This means that in a very dark backyard anyone with a decent binoculars can see it comfortably.

“It’s 500 times bigger than the black hole in our galaxy,” said co-author and ANU PhD researcher Samuel Lai.

“All the orbits of the planets in our solar system would fit inside its event horizon – the boundary of the black hole from which nothing can escape.”

A paper detailing the discovery has been submitted to the publishing journal of the Astronomical Society of Australia, but has not yet been reviewed. A preprint version is available through the arXiv database.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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