Australian Researchers Discover 'Fastest Growing' Black Hole Ever Recorded

The supermassive black hole has a mass around 17 billion times that of the sun.
Arielle Richards
Melbourne, AU
Black Hole fastest growing

Australian researchers have discovered the fastest-growing black hole ever recorded, with a mass around 17 billion times that of our Sun. The supermassive black hole is consuming matter and engorging at the equivalent of one sun every day.

Researchers at the Australian National University in Canberra found the black hole is at the centre of a quasar, a galaxy with a supermassive black hole at its centre which continually adds to itself.

Lead author of the study and ANU Associate Professor Christian Wolf said the quasar, known as J0529-435, is the brightest thing in the universe, emitting 500 trillion times the light our Sun projects.

“It’s a lot of light that comes out of that accretion disk, about 500 trillion times the amount of light that our Sun emits, or about 20,000 times the amount of light that our entire Milky Way galaxy – with all its billions of stars – emits,” he told the ABC.

The quasar’s accreditation disk, the holding pattern for the material waiting to be consumed by the black hole, was seven years in diameter, or, 1.5 times the distance from our solar system to Alpha Centauri, the closest star.

The quasar was first detected by a 2.3 metre telescope near Coonabarabran in NSW. ANU’s research team then used the European Souther Observatory’s Very Large Telescope – one of the world’s largest – to assess the black hole’s mass.

The quasar cannot be detected on Earth with the naked eye it can be seen with a telescope with the lens the size of a basketball.

“It’s very far away, the light has been travelling for 12 billion years to reach us, so evidently it has to be very luminous for us to see it from here,” Professor Wolf said.

“And indeed, it’s the most luminous object that we now know in the universe.”


What is a black hole?

A black hole is a massive area that has an immense amount of gravity — so much so that nothing can escape from it (including light).