New research led by the Australian National University (ANU) has revealed how massive is the black hole fastest growing in the Universeas well as how much you gobble up.
The studied giant black hole, known as 'J2157', was discovered by the same research team in 2018. The study has been published in 'Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society'.
According to Doctor Christopher Onken and his colleagues, this object is 34 billion times the mass of the Sun and gobble up the equivalent of one Sun every day. Or what is the same, its mass is approximately 8,000 times the mass of Sagittarius A *, the black hole in the center of the Milky Way. "If the Milky Way's black hole wanted to get fat, it would have to swallow two-thirds of all the stars in our galaxy," compares Onken.
As he explains, scientists studied the object at a time when the universe was only 1.2 billion years old, less than 10% of its current age. "It is the largest black hole ever weighed in this early period of the Universe," says Onken.
How black holes got so big so early in the life of the Universe remains a mysteryBut the team is now looking for more black holes in the hope that they can provide some clues.
"We knew we were with a very massive black hole when we realized its rapid growth rate"says team member Dr. Fuyan Bian, astronomer at the European Southern Observatory (ESO).
"How much can black holes swallow depends on how much dough they already have. So for this object to be devouring matter at such a high rate, we thought it could become a new record holder. And now we know, "he says.
The team, which includes researchers from the University of Arizona, used ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile to accurately measure the mass of the black hole.
"With such a huge black hole, we are also excited to see what can we learn about the galaxy in which it is growing"says Onken, who wonders if this galaxy is one of the giants of the early Universe, or the black hole swallowed an extraordinary amount of its surroundings.