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“500 trillion times brighter than the Sun” Discovery of the brightest object in the universe, a quasar 12 billion light-years away |  Forbes Japan official website (Forbes Japan)

“500 trillion times brighter than the Sun” Discovery of the brightest object in the universe, a quasar 12 billion light-years away | Forbes Japan official website (Forbes Japan)

A team of astronomers has discovered the brightest object ever detected in the universe using the Very Large Telescope (VLT) at the European Southern Observatory (ESO) in Chile.

This object, J0529-4351, discovered in the early universe 12 billion light-years away, is a quasar and 500 trillion times brighter than the Sun. It was published in the journal Nature Astronomy on February 19.Publish“About a million quasars have already been discovered, and they're not very obvious, but this object is one that, surprisingly, has remained unknown until today,” said Christopher Onken, an astronomer at the Australian National University (ANU) and co-author of the paper summarizing the new study. “It's literally been dark under the lighthouse by now.”

J0529-4351 was seen in images from the Southern Sky Survey conducted by the Schmidt Telescope in 1980, but for more than 40 years it was thought to be too bright to be a quasar, and was thought to be a star within the Milky Way.

What is a quasar?

Quasars are objects from the early universe whose energy source is a supermassive black hole. It is by far the brightest source of light in the sky, and the most powerful celestial body in the universe emitting energy. The black hole at the center of J0529-4351 is gaining the mass of one sun every day, making it the fastest-growing black hole on record.

Recent research has revealed that quasars are the result of collisions between galaxies.

Black hole

J0529-4351 is so far from Earth that it takes more than 12 billion years for its light to reach Earth. “We have discovered the fastest growing black hole ever,” said Australian National University astronomer Christian Wolff, lead author of the study. “It has 17 billion times the mass of the Sun and absorbs just over one Sun per day, making it the brightest object in the known universe.”

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The region around the constellation Gaca in the southern sky where quasar J059-4351 is located (enlarged image in middle frame and lower left) (ESO/Digitized Sky Survey 2/Dark Energy Survey)

Accumulation disk

The massive light from quasars emanates from what astronomers call an accretion disk, a thin, hot disk of material that spirals toward the black hole. “All of this light comes from a hot accretion disk seven light-years across, which must be the largest accretion disk in the universe,” says study co-author Samuel Lai, a PhD student at the Australian National University.

In 2019, NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) discovered a quasar 600 trillion times brighter than the Sun using the Hubble Space Telescope.a reportan act. But the brightness of this quasar is amplified by the “gravitational lensing” of galaxies, making it about 11 trillion times brighter than our Sun.

(Forbes.com original text)