We just discovered a supermassive black hole that eats an Earth every second

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A supermassive black hole that consumes the equivalent of one Earth every second and has a mass of 3 billion suns; that is, a bug 500 times larger than Sagittarius A*, the monstrous hole in the center of our galaxy. That is what think you have found a team of researchers from the Australian National University.


A flash in the middle of the dark. Using the SkyMapper Southern Sky Survey, a 1.3-meter telescope in New South Wales, researchers discovered an extremely bright quasar: 7,000 times more luminous, in fact, than all the light from the Milky Way. A quasar is a very specific phenomenon related to the “massive jets” associated with the accretion disks of the holes. The study is currently under review, but if confirmed it would be a bombshell.

And the most interesting thing is not its size. Analyzing that quasar they realized that the data did not quite add up. According to the authors, “the light we are seeing from this growing black hole has been traveling towards us for about 7 billion years” (the Big Bang occurred about 13.8 billion years ago). That’s a very short time for such a monster.

There are other black holes of similar size, “but they all tend to be much earlier in the history of the universe, where galaxy mergers were much more common.” explained Christopher Onken. If the data is confirmed, we would find ourselves facing the fastest growing hole in the last 9,000 million years.

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How have we not seen it before? That is, as the researchers themselves acknowledge, “people have been looking for these growing black holes since the early 1960s.” We have located about 880,000. How is it possible that something so bright has been overlooked?

The explanation they give is related to the night sky. “Historically, people have avoided looking very closely at the plane of the Milky Way because there are so many stars and so many pollutants there that it is very difficult to find anything.” Without going any further, “many searches stop looking at 25 degrees … almost all They stop 20 degrees from the plane of the Milky Way. This object is at 18 degrees.

So big it can be “seen” by amateur astronomers. J1144, as the quasar is called, is bright enough to be visible to amateur astronomers. “If you want to see it with the naked eye, you probably need a 30 to 40 cm wide telescope,” explained Onken; “But it’s more than possible.”

Image | Jacob Grannemann

A supermassive black hole that consumes the equivalent of one Earth every second and has a mass of 3 billion…

A supermassive black hole that consumes the equivalent of one Earth every second and has a mass of 3 billion…

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