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Universe’s brightest object reportedly discovered, featuring black hole the size of 17 billion suns

Astronomers have discovered what may be the brightest object in the universe. It’s a quasar with a black hole at its center, and it’s growing so fast it can swallow up the equivalent of the Sun in a day.

The record-breaking quasar shines 500 trillion times brighter than the sun. The black hole powering this remote quasar is more than 17 billion times more massive than the sun, an Australian-led research team reported Monday in the journal Nature Astronomy.

Although quasars look like mere dots in images, scientists imagine them to be terrifying places.

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The disk of luminescent gas and other material from the engulfed star that spins around a quasar’s black hole is like a cosmic hurricane.

“This quasar is the most violent place in the universe as we know it,” lead author Christian Wolff of the Australian National University said in an email.

Illustration provided in February 2024 shows Quasar J059-4351. (M. Kohnmesser/ESO, via AP)

The European Southern Observatory discovered the object, J0529-4351, during a sky survey in 1980, and it was thought to be a star. It wasn’t confirmed to be a quasar (the very active, bright center of a galaxy) until last year. This was confirmed by telescope observations in Australia and the Atacama Desert in Chile.

“What’s interesting about this quasar is that it’s hiding in plain sight and was previously misclassified as a star,” said Priyamvada Natarajan of Yale University, who was not involved in the study. he said in an email.

Subsequent observations and computer modeling revealed that the quasar swallows the equivalent of 370 suns a year, or one sun a day. Further analysis revealed that the black hole has a mass between 17 billion and 19 billion times that of the sun, the researchers said. More observations are needed to understand its growth rate.

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Quasars are located 12 billion light years away and have existed since the beginning of the universe. One light year is 5.8 trillion miles.

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