Black holes are frightening, the boogeymen of space. Not only do they destroy everything around them at the atomic level, they are essentially invisible (except for eruptions from the things they destroy). Black holes are all around us, singularities that warp time and space. We might even have one at the center of our galaxy. If that’s not enough to blow your mind, researchers may have discovered the fastest growing black hole, devouring the equivalent of our Sun every two days.
This super massive black hole, discussed in the Publications of the Astronomical Society of Australia, resides at the center of a quasar titled SMSS~J215728.21-360215.1. It is estimated to have the mass of approximately 20 billion times that of the Sun. The singularity is still growing, however, at a rate of one percent every million years.
“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,” says Christian Wolf, an astronomer at the Australian National University.
Wolf goes on to say that if this particular black hole were at the center of our galaxy, it would appear “10 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,” said Wolf.
But don’t worry. Wolf promises that the black hole is so far away that we are actually observing its light from more than 12 billion years ago. Not sure how that makes you feel better, it’s probably just much larger now.
Studying black holes could uncover mysteries of the early universe. Researchers can also use black holes to measure the universe’s expansion.