An object 500 trillion times brighter than the Sun has been discovered: what it is

Dmytro IvancheskulNews
Light from a quasar traveled to Earth for more than 12 billion years. Source: Illustrative photo

Researchers have discovered an object that is probably the brightest known in the Universe. It is a quasar that has a black hole in its heart and absorbs the equivalent of one Sun every day.

The discovery was reported by a team of astronomers from the Australian National University (ANU) in a study published in the journal Nature Astronomy. Scientists believe that no one will ever find something brighter.

For the first time, this extremely bright quasar was spotted using a telescope at the Siding Spring Observatory.

"Quasars are bright objects that are powered by the accretion of black holes," said Christian Wolf, associate professor of astronomy at ANU.

During the study, the astronomers studied the sky looking for bright objects and then used a 2.3-meter telescope to find out which ones were black holes. After that, a detailed study of the detected quasars was carried out using the more powerful Very Large Telescope (VLT) of the European Southern Observatory in Chile.

According to the researchers, the light from the quasar took more than 12 billion years to reach the Earth. However, the black hole itself, as Wolf explained, is now located at a distance of more than 20 billion light years from us. This happened because the Universe is in a state of constant expansion.

Observations of scientists suggest that the quasar record holder shines 500 trillion times brighter than our Sun, and the black hole is about 17 billion times the mass of our star.

The scientist noted that the assumption of the existence of black holes the mass of which is 20-30 billion times greater than our Sun has existed before, but such black holes should no longer be as hungry as the one seen by the scientists. In fact, such holes would be almost invisible because they attract less matter, and thus "emit less heat and light."

Wolf claims that it is unlikely that scientists will ever find a brighter object and break the record. At the same time, he recalls that in 2022 he already made such an assumption when he and his colleagues discovered an extremely bright black hole. However, the next discovery was even more exciting.

"Just a couple of months after this story, we came across this new object, which is only now being published (because - Ed.) all the analysis is complete," Wolf said.

Now the scientist is more than confident in his words about the record as he and his team have analyzed in detail all the data covering 80% of the sky. The rest is obscured by the Milky Way.

"The dust clouds of the Milky Way absorb the light from everything behind, so you only see the foreground. About 20% of the sky is so dark that we can't study it with current data and methods," Wolf said.

He acknowledges that although "you can never say never," no one will find something more powerful.

Wolf said that the accretion disk of a black hole is similar to the center of a magnetic storm 7 light-years wide, where the temperature reaches more than 10,000°C and lightning flashes everywhere.

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