A massive, fast-growing black hole, more luminous than previously discovered phenomena, has been discovered by an international team led by astronomers in Australia. Scientists say the black hole consumes the equivalent of one Earth every second and shines 7,000 times brighter than all the light from our own galaxy.
Researchers were looking for unusual stars when they came across a supermassive black hole. It consumes the equivalent of one Earth every second and has the mass of three billion suns.
The team led by the Australian National University believes it was obscured by the lights of the Milky Way.
The discovery was made using the SkyMapper telescope at Siding Spring Observatory near Coonabarabran in New South Wales.
To take a more detailed look, the team went to the South African Astronomical Observatory's 1.9-meter telescope in Cape Town.
Christopher Onken from the Australian National University is the study’s lead researcher.
He says astronomers have been searching for these types of objects without success for more than 50 years.
“What we found is what appears to be the most luminous growing black hole in the last nine billion years of the history of the universe," said Onken. "People have been looking for these kinds of objects for almost 60-years and this one escaped its notice probably because it was just a little bit too close to the plane of the Milky Way, where there is so many stars that often it is hard to follow up all of the objects that you might find. And, so, this one had been just outside the range that had been surveyed in the past.”
Black holes are parts of space where matter has collapsed in on itself.
Their light comes from a ring of gas, dust and stars that circles the black hole, known as an accretion disk.
Astronomers hope this rare find will offer tantalizing clues about the formation of galaxies. The ancient black hole is so “astonishingly bright” that it should be visible to well-equipped amateur stargazers.
The Australian-led research is continuing. The team also discovered another 80 growing black holes.