April 5, 2024 at 9:40 am

The Universe’s Biggest Black Hole Could Consume A Sun Every Day And Is 500 Trillion Brighter Than Our Sun

by Trisha Leigh

We hear about black holes all of the time, but it can be hard for our puny human brains to grasp how huge “super massive” really is.

And that definitely applies to the biggest one in our universe.

Quasar J0529-4351 is the fastest growing black hole ever recorded, eating the equivalent of our sun’s energy day after day. It’s 17 billion times bigger than our sun, and according to a recently published study, could help us better understand the history of the universe.

The study’s co-author, Christian Wolf, made a statement about their findings.

“The incredible rate of growth also means a huge release of light and heat. So, this is also the most luminous known object in the universe. It’s 500 trillion times brighter than our sun.”

Source: Wikimedia Commons/European Southern Observatory

Quasars are defined as a galaxy with an active, energetic core that’s powered by a black hole. Astronomers study then to learn more about how they produce the light that’s shot out over great distances.

It takes such a long time for the light to be seen on Earth that astronomers are studying black holes the way they looked billions of years ago.

They have recently learned that quasars shine consistently enough to help astronomers fill in the gaps in cosmic history – and J0529-4351 is so bright and big that co-author Christopher Onken says it could push this line of study even further.

“It’s a surprise it remained undetected until now, given what we know about many other, less impressive black holes. It was hiding in plain sight.”

J0529-4351 was detected with ANU’s Siding Spring Observatory’s telescope, and confirmed by the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope in Chile.

Co-author Rachel Webster talks about how stunning the discovery was.

“The light from this black hole has traveled over 12 billion years to reach us. In the adolescent universe, matter was moving chaotically and feeding hungry black holes. Today, stars are moving orderly at safe distances and only rarely plunge into black holes.”

They say it looks like a large storm cell and is over 18,000 degrees Fahrenheit, with winds that would circle our planet in one second.

The accretion disc in the middle is 42 trillion Earth miles – or 7 light years – in diameter. The team believes this could mean the black hole is approaching the Eddington mass limit.

Source: Shutterstock

The Eddington mass limit is the proposed upper limit of the mass of a star or an accreditation disc.

Yale astrophysicist Priyamvada Natarajan was not involved in the study, but finds the whole thing very intriguing.

“The exciting thing about this quasar is that it was hiding in plain sight and was misclassified as a star previously.”

It sounds as if we’ve got plenty to learn, and this particular quasar is set to be our teacher.

If it doesn’t outgrow its bounds first.

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