An international team of astronomers has discovered an object of almost impossible brightness, located at a distance of 12.8 billion light years from Earth. The object has been credited as the most luminous object ever seen, which emerged in the early universe. It appeared about 900 million years after the big bang. The old quasar, a shining object produced by a massive black hole, is 420 trillion times as luminous as our sun. The black hole has the size of 12 billion suns. The finding has been published in the journal Nature.
Scientists are surprised with the discovery of such brightness and massive size in a black hole which is so close to the beginning of the universe. Although even a relatively small telescope was able to detect it, the researchers collaborated with the astronomers in Chile and the United States to obtain a higher resolution look. Lead author Xue-Bing Wu of Peking University and the Kavli Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics stated “How could we have this massive black hole when the universe was so young? We don’t currently have a satisfactory theory to explain it.”
The black hole grew to such staggering size in less than a billion years and the astronomers have predicted that it was probably pulling in interstellar mass from its surroundings at the maximum rate the whole time. Still, the radiation of the quasar formed by the black hole should have started to limit that accumulation of mass before the attainment of such a size. Although the discovery still remains mysterious, the brilliant quasar is helping the research team to find out other space objects.
Wu commented “Just like a lighthouse sitting in a dark, distant universe, it gives us a chance to see things in between our own planet and the black hole by illuminating them. It provides a unique chance to understand things between the distant galaxy and ours.” The research team is planning several follow-up observations which include projects like exploring the things near this impressive quasar’s galaxy with the aid of space telescopes like Hubble.