[아하! 우주] Taking a puff of Earth every second…a supermassive black hole discovered

[아하! 우주] Taking a puff of Earth every second…a supermassive black hole discovered

▲ Graphic image of a black hole


A rapidly growing black hole has been observed to devour an Earth mass every second. Recently, a team from the Australian National University (ANU) announced the discovery of the fastest growing supermassive black hole ever observed in the constellation Centaurus.

The age of this black hole is estimated to be 9 billion years, which is explained by numbers unimaginable to the human head. First, this black hole is about 3 billion times the mass of our sun, so it’s 500 times larger than the Sagittarius A* black hole at the center of the Milky Way. In particular, it glows brightly as it randomly devours surrounding matter, with enough energy to make it 7,000 times brighter than all the stars in our galaxy. Therefore, the Australian National University team named the black hole the quasar SMSS J114447.77-430859.


Black hole SMSS J114447.77-430859.3 observed by Australian research group ANU. This is the blue circled area.


There are more interesting things. Other black holes of the same size as J1144 stopped growing billions of years ago, but these black holes are still growing, absorbing material from around them. In this regard, the research team drew a line. The reason for the rapid growth of J1144 is not clear, but the answer is guessed from the history of space.

“Perhaps two large galaxies collided with each other, supplying this black hole with a large amount of matter. In the process, the black hole also grew exponentially,” said researcher Christopher Unken, lead author of the paper. “However, if you look at 7 billion years, or half the age of the universe, you’ll never see a black hole growing at the rate of J1144,” he added.


▲ An actual image of Sagittarius A* (star A), the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way. The black part in the center is the black hole and the shadow containing the black hole, and the bright part of the ring is the light bent by the black hole’s gravity.


On the other hand, black holes, which also appear in sci-fi movies, are created in the final stages of the evolution of supermassive stars, and it refers to the region of space-time that absorbs everything with a strong gravitational pull. . . In particular, black holes cannot be directly observed because they absorb light. However, experts have confirmed their existence by the fact that black holes emit powerful streams of matter, called jets, that simultaneously absorb large amounts of matter from their surroundings through strong gravitational forces.

The results of the study are published in the latest issue of Australian Astronomical Society Publications.

Contributor Park Jong-ik, team reporter pji@seoul.co.kr

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