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Found: A Rapidly Expanding Supermassive Black Hole

16 May 2018

Wolf painted a vivid picture of what the supermassive black hole would look like from Earth if it were located in the center of our galaxy.

That said, they think improving technology and advanced ground-based telescopes coming over the next decade should be able to leverage black holes like these to understand how our universe has been growing.

The SkyMapper telescope, which Australian National University astronomers used to find the fastest-growing black hole known in the universe.

'If we had this monster sitting at the center of our Milky Way galaxy, it would appear 10 times brighter than a full moon. It would appear as an incredibly bright pin-point star that would nearly wash out all of the stars in the sky, "said Christian Wolf, lead author of the study and a researcher from the Australian National University".

The hole devours mass equivalent to the the sun every two days. At that rate, it would grow by 1 percent every million years.

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For those trying to unlock the secrets of the universe, the bigger a black hole is, the better.

Most of the energy coming from the quasar is ultraviolet light.

We're lucky that the black hole is billions of light-years away, or the radiation emitted would destroy any life in our galaxy.

These emissions, like today, say the astronomers, are the result of the fact that black holes are not capable of absorbing matter in unlimited quantities.

Dr Wolf said one benefit from finding black holes is they act as backlighting to everything else out in the cosmos, making it easier to see.

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"Fast-growing supermassive black holes also help to clear the fog around them by ionising gases, which makes the universe more transparent".

The breakthrough was made because of the precision of the European Space Agency's Gaia mission, which allows the Earth-bound SkyMapper to more precisely bypass the "contamination" from cool stars in the Milky Way, which may get in the way.

"We don't know how this one grew so large, so quickly in the early days of the Universe", said Dr Christian Wolf from the ANU Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics.

Because of its distance and the expansion of space, that light had shifted into the near-infrared during its billions-of-years journey. Meanwhile, the Gaia satellite, which measures tiny motions of celestial objects, identified the back hole as a stationary object, which suggested it was very large and very far away.

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Found: A Rapidly Expanding Supermassive Black Hole