At present masses, fast-growing black holes can detect a need for a star the size of the Sun every day, according to researchers' calculations.
Researchers at the Australian National University (ANU) say the black hole, called J2157 , is 8,000 times larger than Sagittarius A *, in the center of the Milky Way. Compared to J2157, Sagittarius A * is only 4 million times larger than the Sun. To grow to size as J2157, it will need to "swallow" about 2/3 of the stars in the Milky Way.
Simulate black holes in the early days of the universe. (Photo: ESO).
J2157 is so far away from Earth that light from its place needs to travel for billions of years before reaching Earth. As a result, the team was only able to observe J2157 at 1.2 billion years , which is nearly one-tenth the current age of this black hole. J2157 is second only to the largest black hole called Abell 85 with the mass equal to 40 billion Suns.
The team at ANU first identified J2157 in 2018. They sought to calculate its mass and published the results on June 30 in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. "We knew it was a supermassive black hole when it realized its extremely fast growth , " said Dr. Dr Fuyan Bian, an astronomer at the Southern European Observatory (ESO).
J2157 is tested through ESO's Very Large Telescope in Chile. Researchers are continuing to understand how a black hole could become so large in the early universe.