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Newly discovered supermassive black hole breaks all records

2024-02-22T18:43:21.561Z

Highlights: Newly discovered supermassive black hole breaks all records. As of: February 22, 2024, 7:24 p.m By: Tanja Banner CommentsPressSplit This artist's impression shows the record-breaking quasar J059-4351, the bright core of a distant galaxy powered by a supermassiveBlack hole. The quasar is so far from Earth that its light took more than twelve billion years to reach us. It shines more than 500 trillion times brighter than the sun. This makes it the most luminous object in the known universe.



As of: February 22, 2024, 7:24 p.m

By: Tanja Banner

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This artist's impression shows the record-breaking quasar J059-4351, the bright core of a distant galaxy powered by a supermassive black hole.

© ESO/M.

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The fastest growing black hole in the universe is also the most luminous object.

Despite its superlatives, it remained unrecognized for a long time.

Cerro Paranal – The universe is a place of extremes and black holes are no exception.

A team of researchers has now tracked down an object that sets several records at once.

Although the celestial body cannot actually be overlooked due to several properties, it has only now been discovered.

But from the beginning: The researchers, led by astronomer Christian Wolf from the Australian National University, took a closer look at the quasar J0529-4351 and made an astonishing discovery: the object with the unwieldy name is not only the brightest known to date Quasar, but also the most luminous celestial object that has been observed to date.

Gigantic black hole powers giant quasar

A quasar is the active nucleus of a galaxy, powered by a supermassive black hole.

The black hole that powers quasar J0529-4351 is setting new records.

“We have discovered the fastest growing black hole known to date,” said Wolf, lead author of a study

published in the journal

Nature Astronomy .

To illustrate the dimensions of the celestial body, he adds: “It has a mass of 17 billion solar masses and consumes just over one solar mass per day.

This makes it the most luminous object in the known universe.”

What is a quasar and what is a supermassive black hole?

A

quasar

is the active, bright core of a galaxy.

In visible light it looks like a star (point-like).

In other wavelengths it emits very large amounts of energy.

The term quasar is derived from the English “quasi-stellar radio source” – in German: “star-like radio source”.

Supermassive black holes

are at the center of most galaxies.

They power quasars.

A black hole is a celestial body whose mass is concentrated in a very small volume.

As a result, the object has such strong gravity that not even light can leave it.

The outer boundary of the black hole is called the “event horizon.”

Matter orbits around a black hole, the so-called “accretion disk”.

It is their emission of radiation that is seen as a luminous quasar.

The quasar is so far from Earth that its light took more than twelve billion years to reach us.

It shines more than 500 trillion times brighter than the sun.

But these impressive numbers are exceeded: "All this light comes from a hot accretion disk with a diameter of seven light years - this must be the largest accretion disk in the universe," adds Samuel Lai, another author of the study.

For comparison, seven light years is 15,000 times the distance between the Sun and the most distant planet, Neptune.

The region of the sky where the record-breaking quasar J0529-4351 is located.

The image was created from images from the Digitized Sky Survey 2, the inset shows the position of the quasar in an image from the Dark Energy Survey.

© ESO/Digitized Sky Survey 2/Dark Energy Survey

Most luminous quasar “has literally stared us in the face so far”

Despite these impressive figures, the quasar remained undetected for a long time.

“It is strange that it has remained unrecognized to this day when we already know a million less impressive quasars.

He has literally been staring us in the face until now,” says Christopher Onken, another co-author, in a statement.

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However, there is a reason for the late discovery of the quasar, which lies in the applied technology: to distinguish quasars from other celestial objects in large data sets, models based on machine learning are often used.

Because these models are trained with existing data, it can happen that a celestial body that falls off the grid is classified as a nearby star.

Supermassive black holes provide clues to the early days of the universe

That's exactly what happened with J0529-4351.

Although the object can already be seen in images from 1980, it has only now been successfully classified as a quasar.

Ultimately, the X-Shooter spectrograph on the European Southern Observatory's (ESO) Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Cerro Paranal, Chile, provided the crucial data and showed how extreme the quasar is.

Long-distance, supermassive black holes are of great interest to researchers because they hold secrets from the early days of the universe.

But that's not the only reason astronomer Wolf is looking for them, as he admits: “Personally, I just like hunting.

For a few minutes a day I feel like a kid playing treasure hunt again, but this time I bring with me everything I've learned since then."

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The editor wrote this article and then used an AI language model for optimization at her own discretion.

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Source: merkur

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