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15 May 2018, 09:52 | Dale Webster
Image by Jurik Pete | Shutterstock
Apparently, what baffled the scientists was that this black hole expands at such an accelerated pace that, in accordance to the current theories, it must have about 20 billion times the mass of our Sun.
If the sun were to fall into this incredibly dense cosmic object, it would only take two days for the black hole to devour it, the scientists behind the new discovery have said. The quasar is estimated to be as large as 20 billion suns and radiates ultraviolet and X-ray energy as gas and dust are sucked in.
"It would appear 10 times brighter than a full moon and nearly wash out all of the stars in the sky". "It would appear as an incredibly bright pin-point star that would nearly wash out all of the stars in the sky".
The supermassive black hole was discovered by the European Space Agency's Gaia satellite. Wolf and his colleagues spotted the light with the SkyMapper telescope at the ANU Siding Spring Observatory.
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, Dr Wolf said. Improved technology on ground-based telescopes coming online over the next decade will also be able to directly measure the expansion of the universe using the very bright black holes.
This makes the newfound giant black hole the fastest-growing quasar in the known universe.
"Again, if this monster was at the centre of the Milky Way it would likely make life on Earth impossible with the huge amounts of x-rays emanating from it", he said.
A black hole is an intense gravitational pull that sucks in everything in its path, including light.
Given its distance from Earth, Dr Wolf said it would have formed when the universe, which was formed 13.8 billion years ago, was just 1.3 billion years old. Looking through data from Europe's Gaia satellite, the researchers uncovered a supermassive black hole that's expanding at dizzying speeds, swallowing up the surrounding cosmos.
Black holes are classified into three groups: primordial, stellar, and supermassive.
Dr Wolf said it's "actually remarkably hard to find these very fast-growing and very massive black holes because they are rare and (it's) not easy to tell them apart from other stars in our Milky Way".
With giant new ground-based telescopes now under construction, scientists will also be able to use bright, distant objects like this voracious black hole to measure the universe's expansion, the researchers said.
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