Black hole found that’s 12bn times the size of our sun

26 Feb 2015

An illustration of a quasar surrounding a black hole. Image via NASA/JPL-Caltech

Space continues to boggle the mind with news an ancient black hole has been discovered that is 12bn times the size of our sun.

The team of researchers who published their findings in the journal Nature are astonished at the sheer scale of the numbers with respect to this black hole, formed 900m years after the Big Bang.

While the black hole as a cosmic phenomenon is practically impossible to see given that it sucks in all matter around it, what is visible is the quasar that is formed as it pulls in every star and galaxy that comes anywhere near it.

To put this into numbers, the sheer size of this black hole has created a quasar that is 420trn times brighter than our sun, which means it can be seen from Earth with a relatively small-scale telescope, despite it existing 12.8bn light years away.

According to The Washington Post, the scientists who discovered this space behemoth say that in order for it to get to such a scale in the space of just 900m years, it must have been running at full capacity from the get go.

However, this defies the current understanding of science which, as lead author of the study, Xue-Bing Wu, said, should have seen the quasar’s vast amounts of radiation limit the size of the black hole before it reached the scale at which it was discovered.

This obviously means further investigation will need to be done on the discovery before a hypothesis can be established.

In the meantime, however, Wu said the brightness of the quasar is continuing to contribute to science as researchers are now using its brilliance of light to study other celestial objects surrounding it.

“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,” said Wu. “It provides a unique chance to understand things between the distant galaxy and ours.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic