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Could this be where people go to after death? Scientists discover black hole from early universe

By Mirror | February 26th 2015

Australia: Astronomers have captured the biggest black hole ever discovered in the early universe.

The ancient object is 12 billion times the mass of our sun and pumping out a million billion times the energy.

It was powering a distant galaxy called a quasar, the study published in Nature revealed.

At a distance of 12.8 billion light years from Earth the quasar was formed only 900 million years after the Big Bang.

Dr Fuyan Bian, of the Australian National University in Canberra, said the discovery challenges theories of how black holes form and grow in the early universe.

He said: "Forming such a large black hole so quickly is hard to interpret with current theories."

A quasar is an extremely bright cloud of material in the process of being sucked into a black hole.

The material heats up as it accelerates towards it - emitting an extraordinary amount of light which actually pushes away stuff falling behind it.

Dr Bian said this process - known as radiation pressure - is believed to limit the growth rate of black holes.

He said: "However this black hole at the centre of the quasar gained enormous mass in a short period of time."

The researchers led by Dr Xue-Bing Wu at Peking University in China selected the quasar from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey of over 500 million objects in the northern skies because of its distinctive red colour.

They then followed up with three other telescopes to study the object in detail.

Dr Wu said: "This quasar is very unique. Just like the brightest lighthouse in the distant universe, its glowing light will help us to probe more about the early universe."

Dr Bian expects more surprising objects will be discovered during the Skymapper survey of the southern skies currently being run by the ANU.

He said: "Skymapper will find more of these exciting objects. Because they are so luminous we can see further back in time and can use them to explore the early universe."

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