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Scientists Discover Brightest Quasar in Space – Giant Black Hole Devouring a Sun’s Worth of Matter Every Day

SPACE — A distant and brightest quasar in the sky was initially mistaken for a star. Once confirmed, the giant turned out to be a brilliant black hole that was growing faster than usual. Now scientists know that the roiling void is also very voracious, devouring a sun’s worth of matter every day.

The brightly lit object, named J0529-4351, weighs between 17 billion and 19 billion times the mass of the sun. It is located 12 billion light years from Earth, born from a time when the universe was only 1.5 billion years old. Currently, our universe is 13.7 billion years old.

Black holes are born when giant stars collapse and grow by devouring everything they encounter. Gas, dust, stars, planets, even black holes smaller than him can fit in his tablespoon. The moon and asteroids are his favorite snacks.

The friction of material swirling into the bowels of J0529-4351 causes it to heat up, emitting light that is detected by the telescope. That light then turns into what is called an active galactic nucleus (AGN).

Also read: Thought to be a galaxy, it turns out a terrifying black hole is heading towards Earth

The most extreme AGNs are quasars, which are supermassive black holes billions of times heavier than the sun. It releases its cocoon of gas with a burst of light trillions of times brighter than a star. That’s it, those voracious space-time cracks are called quasars.

The quasar initially appeared in a 2022 survey by the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Gaia spacecraft. At that time Gaia was mapping the position and movement of around 2 billion stars in the Milky Way.

However, because quasars often burn at least as brightly as stars, J0529-4351 was initially misidentified as a star. The new researchers then looked for black holes that were potentially misidentified in the survey. They published their results in the journal Nature on February 19, 2024.

In that study, they found that J0529-4351 was indeed good at camouflage, at least from the telescope’s field of view. Further observations with the Very Large Telescope (VLT) then confirmed that the bright object was a giant quasar, not a star.

By measuring the quasar’s brightness and adjusting for its distance from Earth, the researchers estimated the object burned with the force of about 50 trillion suns. This intense burning is caused by the fact that J0529-4351 is very large and consumes material very quickly, which is very close to the Eddington limit. It is the upper limit on how bright an object can be based on its size.

Also Read: What is a Black Hole?

Researchers hope that by studying these terrifying objects, they can understand how quasars grow to inexplicable sizes. They also hope that future observations will be better at distinguishing between monsters and stars.

“While its luminosity suggests rapid growth, its existence is difficult to explain,” the researchers wrote. Source: Live Science

2024-02-20 21:53:00
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