(ORDO NEWS) — The fastest growing black hole in the past 9 billion years has been discovered by an international team led by astronomers from the Australian National University.
The black hole consumes the equivalent of one Earth every second and shines 7,000 times brighter than all the light in our own galaxy, making it visible to well-equipped astronomers just in their backyard.
Lead researcher Dr. Christopher Onken and his co-authors describe it as “a very large, unexpectedly found, needle in a haystack.”
“Astronomers have been hunting for such objects for more than 50 years. They found thousands of weaker ones, but this strikingly bright one went unnoticed,” Dr. Onken said.
The mass of a black hole is equal to the mass of three billion suns. Other black holes of comparable size stopped growing as fast billions of years ago.
“Now we want to know why this hole is different from the others – maybe something catastrophic happened? Perhaps two large galaxies collided with each other, as a result of which a large amount of material entered the black hole, which began to feed it, ”said Dr. Onken.
A black hole has a visual magnitude of 14.5, a measure of how bright an object appears to an observer on Earth. This means that anyone with a decent telescope in a very dark backyard can easily observe it.
“It’s 500 times bigger than a black hole in our own galaxy,” said study co-author Samuel Lai, Ph.D.
“The orbits of the planets in our solar system would fit inside its event horizon – the boundary of a black hole from which nothing can escape.”
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