Astronomers have discovered the fastest-growing black hole in the universe, which they describe as a monster capable of devouring a mass equivalent to the sun every two days.
Here is all you need to know about the fastest-growing black hole:
1. Australian National University (ANU) astronomers have looked back more than 12 billion years to the early dark ages of the universe to find this fastest-growing black hole.
2. Back then, this super-massive black hole was estimated to be the size of about 20 billion suns with a 1% growth rate every one million years.
3. Dr. Christian Wolf from ANU Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics, said the black hole is growing so fast that it is shining thousands of times more brightly than an entire galaxy.
4. The brightness of this black hole is due to all of the gases it sucks in daily that cause lots of friction and heat.
5. If placed at the centre of the Milky Way, the galaxy that contains our solar system, this black hole will be 10 times brighter than a full moon and the brightest of all stars.
6. The energy that it emits is mostly ultraviolet light and radiated x-rays.
7. Due to this huge amount of harmful radiation, had the black hole been placed in the middle of our galaxy, none could have survived on Earth.
8. The SkyMapper telescope at the ANU Siding Spring Observatory detected this light in the near-infrared, as the light waves had red-shifted over the billions of light years to Earth.
9. Dr. Christian Wolf of ANU said this kind of rapidly-growing black hole is exceedingly rare and needed several months of search.
10. Interestingly, due to the shine of this kind of black holes, they can be used as beacons to see and study the formation of elements in the early galaxies of the universe.
Image credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA
Sreya is based in Kolkata. She is a Senior Editor of Big Wire.