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
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.