[Science] Chinese Astronomers spot brightest, biggest Black Hole

  • A team of Chinese astronomers has discovered the most luminous supermassive quasar, a shining object produced by the black hole, ever found in the distant universe.
  • According to a new study published today in the British journal "Nature", the quasar is 12 billion times the masses of the Sun and 430 trillion times brighter than the Sun.
  • The black hole, which is 12.8 billion light years from Earth, was first spotted through a 2.4 metre telescope in Lijiang in southwest China's Yunnan Province and its existence was confirmed by follow-up studies in the United States and Chile, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
  • "We were so excited when we found such a luminous object just 9 million years after the Big Bang. It will challenge theories on how black holes form and grow," lead author Wu Xuebing  of Peking University here said.
  • "It's like a child growing to weigh several hundred kilograms in less than ten years. How can we explain it?" Wu said. Fan Xiaohui, professor from the University of Arizona's Steward Observatory and a member of Wu's team, said the discovery "presented a major puzzle" to the theories of black hole growth in the early universe.
  • The researchers believe that this will provide a unique laboratory to study the mass assembly and galaxy formation around massive black holes in the early universe.
  • "Spotting such a celestial body usually requires a 10 metre telescope. But Chinese astronomers observed it through a 2 metre telescope. It demonstrates their creativity," said astrophysicist Chen Jiansheng with the National Astronomical Observatories at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
  • Thanks to certain key technologies Wu and his team have developed in recent years, they were able to select several hundred quasar candidates from over a million celestial bodies, the report said.
  • "It's like finding a speck of gold dust on a beach. We are lucky to have spotted the quasar and made follow-up observations," Wu said.
  • Quasars are believed to be the brightest and most energetic objects in the universe. Since the first quasar was identified in 1963, over 200 thousand quasars have been found.

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