Fastest Growing Black Hole Ever Is Eating One Earth’s Equivalent per Second


We’ve now found the fastest-growing back hole in space! It is so powerful that each second, it swallows the mass equivalent of one EarthHow big is this black hole? For perspective, its mass is thrice as big as the Sun. Owing to its appetite, the black hole is growing rapidly – consuming whatever falls in its way.

An international team found that when black holes usually reach this size, they stop expanding. But this black hole continues to get larger, now about 500 times bigger than the black hole in Milky Way’s heart, the recently photographed Sagittarius A*.

A rare event for black holes

According to astronomers, this is the largest growing black hole to exist in the last 9 billion years. What happened here, though? In a statement, lead researcher Christopher Onken from the Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics believes “perhaps two big galaxies crashed into each other, funneling a whole lot of material onto the black hole to feed it.”

The feeding process of black holes is called accretion, wherein it consumes matter from a thin disc of dust and gas around it. The process has also resulted in a quasar blasting from the black hole, making it 7,000 brighter than the light coming from every star in the Milky Way.

“Astronomers have been hunting for objects like this for more than 50 years… They have found thousands of fainter ones, but this astonishingly bright one had slipped through unnoticed,” Onken said.

A black hole is formed from the death of a star with such a high gravitational field that the matter gets squeezed into the small space under it, trapping the light of the dead star. The gravity is so strong due to the matter being squeezed into a tiny space. Since no light can get out, people can’t see black holes. They are invisible.

The black hole identified by the Australian researchers has a visual magnitude of 14.5 – a measure of how bright an object appears to an observer on Earth. This means anyone with a decent telescope in a very dark backyard can see it comfortably. ANU Ph.D. researcher Samuel Lai, co-author of the study said “It is 500 times bigger than the black hole in our own galaxy. The orbits of the planets in our Solar System would all fit inside its event horizon – the black hole’s boundary from which nothing can escape.”

Astronomers had recently captured the first image of the black hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy, the Sagittarius A*. The team used an Earth-sized telescope to capture the black hole. Sgr A* is located at the center of our Milky Way galaxy and is 27,000 light-years away from us.

The Australian researchers are confident that their record will not be broken, saying “We have essentially run out of the sky where objects like this could be hiding.”


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