Fastest growing black hole discovered

A monster black hole that is the fastest growing object in the universe and devours a mass equivalent to the Earth’s sun every two days has been discovered in deep space, Australian astronomers have announced.

The supermassive black hole is more than 12 billion light years away and estimated to be the size of 20 billion suns expanding one per cent every one million years, according to Dr Christian Wolf from the Australian National University’s Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics.

“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,” Dr Wolf said.

The black hole is estimated to be the size of 20 billion suns. Source: NASA

“If we had this monster sitting at the centre of our Milky Way 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.”

Such large and rapidly growing black holes are extremely rare, with the latest spotted by the European Space Agency’s Gaia satellite as it measured tiny motions of celestial objects.

The discovery was then confirmed using a spectrograph at the university’s Siding Spring Observatory 2.3 metre telescope.

As supermassive black holes shine, they can be used as beacons to see and study the formation of elements in the early galaxies of the universe, Dr Wolf said.