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Aussie scientists discover a black hole 20 billion times the size of our sun

A group of Australian scientists have made a monumental discovery in outer space. That’s good.

The discovery is a black hole that has the kind of appetite for destruction that makes most Marvel bad guys seem like complete amateurs. That’s… actually good too, funny enough.

While space is massive – heaps bigger than, say, a large Coke at Macca’s – and we have only explored a tiny fraction of it, this particular black hole is growing faster than any other in the known universe.

And though a growth rate of one per cent every 1 million years sounds tiny, that’s actually an enormous amount of mass being consumed each day due to the black hole’s colossal size.

“We estimate that this black hole has a mass of at least 20 billion times the mass of the Sun,” Dr Christian Wolf, of the ANU’s Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics, told the ABC.

That means the comparatively tiny rate of consumption this black hole is churning through is actually the equivalent of the mass of our Sun every two days.

Consuming a Sun every other day? Stan Lee needs to up his supervillain game.

Behemoth supermassive black hole weighing 17 billion suns was found in an unlikely place: in the center of a galaxy in a sparsely populated area of the universe. The observations, made by our Hubble Space Telescope and the Gemini Telescope in Hawaii, may indicate that these monster objects may be more common than once thought. This computer-simulated image shows a supermassive black hole at the core of a galaxy. The black region in the center represents the black hole's event horizon, where no light can escape the massive object's gravitational grip. The black hole's powerful gravity distorts space around it like a funhouse mirror. Light from background stars is stretched and smeared as the stars skim by the black hole. Credits: NASA, ESA, and D. Coe, J. Anderson, and R. van der Marel (STScI) [Computer Simulated Image] #nasa #space #hubble #hst #gemini #telescope #blackhole #nasabeyond #astronomy #galaxy #science

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However, contrary to what the name ‘black hole’ suggests, we’re actually dealing with a ridiculously bright entity.

“This black hole is growing so rapidly that it’s shining thousands of times more brightly than an entire galaxy, due to all of the gases it sucks in daily that cause lots of friction and heat,” Dr Wolf said in a statement.

“If we had this monster sitting at the centre of our Milky Way galaxy, it would appear ten times brighter than a full moon. It would appear as an incredibly bright pin-point star that would almost wash out all of the stars in the sky.”

Of course, if it was sat at the heart of the Milky Way, we wouldn’t get much of a chance to appreciate its galaxy-white-washing brightness, as we’d all be dead pretty quick.

“If this monster was at the centre of the Milky Way it would likely make life on Earth impossible with the huge amounts of x-rays emanating from it,” he said.

Luckily, this particular black hole is situated some 12 billion light-years away – so we’re safe from its all-consuming, x-ray emanating terror.

And its size, coupled with the fact it’s not going to destroy our planet, makes it perfect for further study to advance our relative ignorance about these behemoths of the universe.

About the author

Joe was Junior Vice-President at Compu-Global-Hyper-Mega-Net until it was bought out by Bill Gates. He now subedits for Conversant Media and considers it a step up.

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Comment (2)

    Reid Barnes

    Wednesday 16 May 2018

    Have we really changed when it comes to science establishments? Think back to the arrest of Galileo or the epicycles of Ptolemy. Everything from ‘black holes’ to dark energy and the accelerating universe is theorized using a gravitational model of cosmology based on Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity. Has it become a religion masquerading as science? Einstein claimed that the bending of light passing near the Sun, famously measured by Arthur Eddington during a solar eclipse, and also that the precession of the orbit of Mercury around the Sun were due to space-time deformation as characterized by his general theory of relativity. In essence Einstein claimed that the explanation for the phenomena is that the geometry near the Sun is not Euclidean. Einstein said that “in the presence of a gravitational field the geometry is not Euclidean.” But if that non-Euclidean geometry is self-contradicting, then Einstein’s explanation cannot be correct. How can it be correct if the title of the Facebook Note, “Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity Is Based on Self-contradicting Non-Euclidean Geometry,” is a true statement? Just check out the FB Note, at the link in brackets:


    John Brooks

    Thursday 12 July 2018

    People need to be skeptical of these types of stories. I believe after listening to an interview by Dr Wolf that they are seeing the black hole over 12 billion light years away so it must be much smaller and they are inferring the size today based on that size. This “assumption” cannot be taken as fact due to the fact we know nearly nothing about black holes and their development over time or the amount of matter that it has available to grow. Just my thoughts and I could be completely wrong.