The Fastest-Growing Black Hole Ever Seen In The Universe
A rapidly growing supermassive black hole 7,000 times brighter than the entire Milky Way galaxy has been discovered. Every second, an amount of matter equivalent to the mass of the Earth falls into this insatiable black hole.
As far as we know, this is the fastest growing black hole in the last 9 billion years.Their activity is so intense that they send multiple wavelengths of light throughout the universe, making them so-called quasars. The black hole is called SMSS J114447.77-430859.3 (J1144 for short), and analysis of its properties shows that light from its feed takes about 7 billion years to reach it, and its size is about 2.6 billion times larger. is suggested. The black hole of the Sun (a pretty impressive size for a supermassive black hole).
And he’s been hanging around and going unnoticed until now. However, due to its position 18 degrees above the plane of the galaxy, previous surveys of quasars have missed it, as it flies only 20 degrees above the Milky Way’s disk.
“Historically bad luck turned into luck,” Christopher Onken, an astronomer at the Australian National University, told ScienceAlert.
“If you look closely at the disk of the Milky Way, it becomes very difficult to find distant objects.With so many foreground stars, it is very difficult to find rare background stars.
“Another team used ultraviolet satellites to search the skies for these glowing objects, but J1144 had a small gap in its coverage. But the source appears so much in his 1901 sky image. It’s bright, so I have to hide in plain sight.”
Quasars are the brightest single objects in the universe, aside from supernova explosions that emit gamma-ray bursts. They are the result of supermassive black holes accumulating matter from enormous disks of dust and gas at tremendous rates, swirling around them like water flowing through a drainpipe. It’s not the black hole itself that glows, but this matter, heated by extreme friction and gravity, produces light across the spectrum.
Additionally, astronomers believe that some of the material may be channeled and accelerated along magnetic field lines around the outside of the black hole toward the poles, where it is launched into space as high-speed jets of plasma. The interaction of these jets with the gas of the surrounding galaxy produces radio waves.
But there is something really strange about J1144. Quasars with the same level of activity can be found, but much earlier in the history of the Universe, dating back about 13.8 billion years.
After about 9 billion years ago, this furious quasar activity seems to have calmed down a bit, making J1144 a fascinating oddball. The quasar is so bright that someone with a backyard telescope could go outside and look at it with their own eyes.
“This black hole is so unusual that while you should never say never, I don’t think we’ll ever find another one like it,” says ANU astronomer Christian Wolf.
“We are pretty sure this record will not be broken. Basically, we’ve run out of sky where objects like this could hide.”
But the discovery has sparked a new fervor to search for and compile a census of bright quasars. The team has already confirmed 80 new quasars, with hundreds more candidates to be analyzed and confirmed or ruled out. This means that the astronomical community is close to a complete census of bright quasars in the relatively recent Universe.
“None of them are as bright as J1144, but they will help paint a more complete picture of how common this rapid growth phase could be, and that will help us understand the physical mechanism behind it,” Onken told ScienceAlert.
“Whether it’s about rare collisions between huge galaxies, or something special about the environment around the black hole, or about the black hole itself, for example, a rapidly spinning black hole can release much more energy from the matter it accumulates than one that barely turns.”
Also, because they’re so bright, the light from quasars can be analyzed to learn more about the tenuous gas drifting between galaxies, Onken said. This can reveal the flow of gas around the Milky Way galaxy, giving us a better understanding of three-dimensional motions in the space around us.
The team’s research has been submitted to Publications of the Astronomical Society of Australia and is available on the arXiv preprint server.