Astronomers uncover universes brightest object: Quasar devouring a sun a day

The record-breaking quasar shines 500 trillion times brighter than our sun

AP02_20_2024_000002A The supermassive black hole, seen here pulling in surrounding matter, has a mass 17 billion times that of the Sun and is growing in mass by the equivalent of another Sun per day, making it the fastest-growing black hole ever known | AP

Astronomers have identified what could be the brightest object in the universe - a quasar with a voracious black hole at its core, consuming the equivalent of a sun each day.

This record-breaking quasar radiates with a brilliance 500 trillion times greater than our own sun. The black hole steering this cosmic spectacle is over 17 billion times more massive than our familiar star, as revealed by an Australian-led research team in a recent publication in the journal Nature Astronomy.

Despite appearing as a mere speck in images, this quasar comprises a tumultuous environment. The swirling disk encircling the black hole, comprised of luminous gases and matter from engulfed stars, resembles a celestial hurricane.

Lead author Christian Wolf of Australian National University described the quasar as "the most violent place that we know in the universe," emphasizing the extraordinary nature of this discovery.

Initially spotted by the European Southern Observatory during a sky survey in 1980, the object, known as J0529-4351, was initially misconstrued as a star. It was only last year that it was correctly identified as a quasar, thanks to observations conducted by telescopes in Australia and Chile's Atacama Desert.

Professor Priyamvada Natarajan from Yale University expressed excitement about the revelation, highlighting that the quasar had been "hiding in plain sight" and was previously misclassified as a star.

Further analysis and computer modeling have demonstrated that the quasar is devouring the equivalent of 370 suns annually, signifying a staggering rate of consumption. The research team estimates the black hole's mass to be between 17 and 19 billion times that of our sun, with additional observations required to comprehend its growth rate.

Situated 12 billion light-years away, this extraordinary quasar has existed since the early stages of the universe, offering a compelling glimpse into the cosmos. 

Join our WhatsApp Channel to get the latest news, exclusives and videos on WhatsApp