Australian astronomers find a cosmic 'monster' that's growing fast

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The mega black hole that is said to be growing faster than any black hole in the universe today was found by scientists from the Australian National University (ANU).

Dr Wolf said it's "actually remarkably hard to find these very fast-growing and very massive black holes because they are rare and (it's) not easy to tell them apart from other stars in our Milky Way".

The mammoth black hole also emanates vast amounts of radiated X-rays, which would probably "make life on Earth impossible", the astronomer pointed out. They described the black hole as a "monster" that reportedly devours a mass equivalent to the size of our Sun every two days.

And it's a good thing this monster black hole isn't at the centre of our Milky Way. It emits light that is a thousand times brighter than an entire galaxy due to the heat and friction caused by all the gases it absorbed. Improved technology on ground-based telescopes coming online over the next decade will also be able to directly measure the expansion of the universe using the very bright black holes.

As Dr. Christian Wolf of the Australian National University explained, this finding represents a big problem for astrophysics which, until now, was pretty much sure that supernovae turn into black holes which are up to 50 solar masses and can not exceed this limitation.

The discovery of the new supermassive black hole was confirmed using the spectrograph on the ANU's 2.3m SkyMapper telescope to split colours into spectral lines.

Since it took this long for its light to reach us, spotting this supermassive black hole is like looking back through time, when the universe was just 1.4-billion-years-old.

Given its distance from Earth, Dr Wolf said it would have formed when the universe, which was formed 13.8 billion years ago, was just 1.3 billion years old. "It would appear as an incredibly bright pinpoint star that would nearly wash out all of the stars in the sky", he added.

"As the Universe expands, space expands and that stretches the light waves and changes their color", Wolf added.

The study was published May 11 in the Publications of the Astronomical Society of Australia.

"There's a big mystery about how these supermassive black holes form, because we don't understand how something could get that big that quickly; our normal theories don't work", she says. "The hunt is on to find even faster-growing black holes".