A group of astronomers discovered the fastest growing black hole in the Universe known until now, which absorbs a mass equivalent to the Sun every two days, academic sources in Australia reported today.
The black hole called QSO SMSS J215728.21-360215.1 was detected 12 billion light-years away from Earth by scientists at the Australian National University (ANU). Its size is equivalent to 20,000 million solar masses and has a growth rate of around one percent per million years, the ANU said in a statement.
“This black hole grows so fast that it shines thousands of times more than an entire galaxy because of the gases it devours daily causing a lot of friction and heat,” said Christian Wolf, of the School of Astronomy and Astrophysics of the ANU.
This black hole started when the Universe, which is about 14 billion years old, was only 1.2 billion years old. “We do not know how it grew so much and so fast in the first stage of the Universe,” said the scientist.
Mr. Wolf indicated that the energy emitted by the black hole, also known as quasar, was composed of ultraviolet light and X-rays. “If this monster were in the center of the Milky Way it would probably make life on Earth impossible because of the large number of X-rays it emanates,” the astronomer said.
“These gigantic fast-growing black holes also help to clear the fog that surrounds them with ionizing gases, which makes the Universe more transparent,” he added.
The black hole was detected by the SkyMapper telescope of the ANU Siding Spring Observatory, located about 480 kilometers northwest of Sydney, with the help of the Gaia satellite of the European Space Agency.
The astronomers hope that this kind of black holes will become a sort of model for other researchers to observe and study the formation of elements in the early galaxies of the Universe.