Astronomers say they have have discovered a black hole so big that it challenges the theory about how they grow.
NBC news reported that scientists said this black hole was formed about 900 million years after the “Big Bang”.
But with measurements indicating it is 12 billion times the size of the sun, the black hole challenges a widely accepted hypothesis of growth rates.
“Based on previous research, this is the largest black hole found for that period of time,” Fuyan Bian, Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Australian National University (ANU), told Reuters on Wednesday.
The discovery was described in a study published Wednesday in Nature , “Current theory is for a limit to how fast a black hole can grow, but this black hole is too large for that theory.”
The quasar, which has been named SDSS J0100+2802, was reportedly formed 900 million years after the Big Bang and is 12.8 billion light-years from Earth.
Quasars are extremely luminous and were first identified as being high redshift sources of electromagnetic energy, including radio waves and visible light, that appeared to be similar to stars, rather than extended sources similar to galaxies.
Their spectra contain very broad emission lines, unlike any known from stars, hence the name “quasi-stellar”, and their luminosity can be 100 times greater than that of the Milky Way.
The discovery is powered by the most massive black hole observed for an object from that time, according to CBS news.
Prior to this discovery, the brightest quasar known was 13 billion light-years away.
The newly discovered black hole is seven times brighter than that and 420 trillion times more luminous than our sun. Researchers claim the cosmic light defies convention.
While the nature of these objects was controversial until the early 1980s, there is now a scientific consensus that a quasar is a compact region in the center of a massive galaxy surrounding a central supermassive black hole.
Its size is 10–10,000 times the Schwarzschild radius of the black hole.
The energy emitted by a quasar derives from mass falling onto the accretion disc around the black hole.
The black hole was discovered a team of global scientists led by Xue-Bing Wu at Peking University, China, as part of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, which provided imagery data of 35 percent of the northern hemisphere sky.
The ANU is leading a comparable project, known as SkyMapper, to carry out observations of the Southern Hemisphere sky.
Fuyan Bian said he expects more black holes to be observed as the project advances.