Gigantic Black Hole Discovered at the Beginning of Time

Super massive Black Hole at the Beginning of Time
Computer simulation of a supermassive black hole at the core of a galaxy. Credits: NASA, ESA, and D. Coe, J. Anderson, and R. van der Marel (STScI)

Astonishing as black holes are, it is extraordinary to find that there is one so massive, it would equate to a weight of 12 billion (of our) suns. Compared to an average black hole, which has a mass of about three billion suns, this one is quite huge.

Fortunately, this oversize behemoth is billions of light years from Earth. It is only 875 million years young, or putting it a different way, this object started to exist 875 million years after the big bang. Although this sounds like a long time by Earth’s standards, it is relatively a short time for a black hole to develop to maturity.  Astronomers have believed that a requirement for a black hole to mature is in the billions of  years, so they are somewhat baffled as to how this one came about in such a short time.

This phenomenon is still being studied and will be for many, many years. But it cannot be scene, as you can only detect a black hole by studying the objects that are affected around it, and here is where scientists can tell just how big it is. More specifically, the amount of energy that other objects produce around the black hole is mathematically proportional the the size of the black hole.

It appears that there is a nearby quasar, called SDSS J010013.021280225.8, which is being sucked in. When these quasars are being pulled into a black hole, they heat up. Just how much heat is generated depends upon the size (or power) of the object that is pulling on it.

Similar to a tug of war. The more the person resists getting pulled towards the other person, the more force he exerts and, in human terms, the more energy (in this case sweat) he will produce.

So, by utilizing telescopes in China, Hawaii, Arizona, and Chile, astronomers coordinated their findings to determine the amount of gas that is heating up the quasar. In this case, it is heating up at an exceptional rate and these findings determine the estimated size of this black hole.

“This is the biggest monster we’ve ever detected in terms of luminosity,” says Avi Loeb, Chair of the Harvard Astronomy Department. “It’s about 40,000 times as bright as the entire Milky Way”, says Loeb.

If that’s not fascinating, considering that these objects are 12 billion light years from our Milky Way galaxy, so we are looking at them as they were some 12 billion years ago. There is no telling where they are now, or more precisely, what they currently morphed into. It is quite possible that their resultant gas and dust are part of numerous objects, such as stars, planets or even other types of extraterrestrial life at this current time.

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