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Business News/ Science / News/  Astronomers discover universe’s brightest object – a black hole devouring a sun every day
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Astronomers discover universe’s brightest object – a black hole devouring a sun every day

The black hole with a mass roughly 17 billion times that of the Sun has set a record that may not ever be beaten. It shines 500 trillion times brighter than our sun, a study published in the journal Nature Astronomy reveals.

This illustration provided by the European Southern Observatory in February 2024, depicts the record-breaking quasar J059-4351, the bright core of a distant galaxy that is powered by a supermassive black hole. (AP)Premium
This illustration provided by the European Southern Observatory in February 2024, depicts the record-breaking quasar J059-4351, the bright core of a distant galaxy that is powered by a supermassive black hole. (AP)

Astronomers at the Australian National University (ANU) have identified what could be the brightest object in the universe, a black hole that is devouring the equivalent of a Sun every day.

According to a study published in the journal Nature Astronomy, the black hole with a mass roughly 17 billion times that of the Sun has set a record that may not ever be beaten. It shines 500 trillion times brighter than our sun.

“The incredible rate of growth also means a huge release of light and heat," said study lead author Christian Wolf, Associate Professor at ANU.

“So, this is also the most luminous known object in the universe. It is 500 trillion times brighter than our sun," Wolf said.

The black hole was first discovered through a 2.3-metre telescope at the university’s Siding Spring Observatory near Coonabarabran in New South Wales, but later it was confirmed with the European Southern Observatory’s very large telescope.

A black hole is a region of spacetime where gravity is so strong that nothing, including light, can escape it.

It was a surprise that the blackhole remained undetected until now, given what we know about many other, less impressive ones, said Christopher Onken, co-author of the study.

The quasar is 12 billion light years away and has been around since the early days of the universe. A light-year is 5.8 trillion miles.

The astronomers also said that the intense radiation that comes from the accretion disc -- made of rapidly rotating gas -- around the black hole is the holding pattern for all the material waiting to be devoured.

“It looks like a gigantic and magnetic storm cell with temperatures of 10,000 degrees Celsius, lightning everywhere and winds blowing so fast they would go around Earth in a second," Wolf said.

“This storm cell is seven light-years across, which is 50 per cent more than the distance from our solar system to the next star in the Galaxy, alpha Centauri," he added.

(With inputs from agencies)

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Published: 20 Feb 2024, 08:42 PM IST
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