(ORDO NEWS) — It turned out that one of the largest black holes in the Universe has an appetite corresponding to its huge size.
New measurements show that a black hole is 34 billion times the mass of the sun – it absorbs almost one mass of the sun every day.
This makes it the fastest growing black hole in the entire universe.
“The mass of the black hole is also 8,000 times larger than the black hole in the center of the Milky Way,” said astronomer Christopher Onken of Australian National University in Australia.
The discovery of this supermassive black hole was first announced in 2018; it feeds a sparkling quasar in the center of a galaxy called SMSS J215728.21-360215.1 (for brevity J2157) in the early Universe, billions of light-years away.
At the time of the discovery, astronomers estimated the mass of the black hole at about 20 billion solar masses, categorizing it as ultra-massive (more than 10 billion solar masses), and its rate of accumulation — how much material it absorbs — is half the solar mass a day.
Since then, astronomers have taken new measurements to revise these numbers. And they are stunning. With its derivative mass, the black hole J2157 (J2157 *) will have a Schwarzschild radius – the radius of its event horizon is about 670 astronomical units (AU).
For context, the distance from the Sun to Pluto is 39.5 astronomical units. It is believed that heliopause – when the solar wind is no longer strong enough to influence with interstellar space – is at a distance of more than 100 AU from the sun. Therefore, the event horizon J2157 * is more than six times the size of the solar system.
These new measurements have revised not only the size and rate of accretion of the black hole, but also the distance. The changes are insignificant, given its total distance from us – only several tens of millions of light years. But even such relatively small details matter when it comes to understanding what was happening in our universe when it was barely 1 billion years old.
J2157 * Not the largest black hole ever discovered. An ultra-massive black hole, weighing about 40 billion solar masses, is located in the center of the Holm 15A galaxy, at a distance of about 700 million light-years. And then there’s the supermassive black hole that feeds the quasar TON 618 — an absolute monster — with 66 billion solar masses.
The black holes of Holm 15A and TON 618 are pretty hard to understand. We do not know how supermassive or ultramassive black holes form and grow.
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