Space: the astonishing discovery of a black hole that “swallows” one sun per day

According to a study published in the scientific journal


, astronomers have identified a supermassive black hole which absorbs the equivalent of a sun per day, at the heart of the “quasar” – the nucleus of the galaxy which shelters it – the most luminous never observed.

This image released by the European Southern Observatory on February 21, 2024 shows the quasar named J059-4351, the luminous core of a distant galaxy, powered by a supermassive black hole. AFP - HANDOUT

By: Internet Editorial


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A stunning find. “

We have discovered

the fastest growing black hole

known to date. It has a mass of 17 billion suns and 'eats' a little more than one sun per day

,” Christian Wolf, an astronomer at the Australian National University, reported in a press release from the European Southern Observatory (ESO). ANU) and lead author of

this study published in the journal



Concretely, a supermassive black hole, invisible by definition, illuminates the core of the galaxy which shelters it. This nucleus is called a "quasar", and the one observed by the ESO's Very Large Telescope (the VLT), located in Chile, is "

the most luminous object in the known universe

", according to Christian Wolf.

The light from this quasar took 12 billion years to reach the VLT instruments, which makes it possible to date its existence to the primitive epoch of the Universe – 13.8 billion years old. The light of “J0529-4351”, as scientists named it, had been detected in the 1980s, recalls the study published Monday February 19. But an automatic analysis of the data carried out by a satellite which

maps the galaxy

had likened it to a very luminous star. Then last year, researchers in Australia managed to identify it as indeed being a quasar.

Light equivalent to that of more than 500 billion suns

Everything about this black hole is astonishing, scientists say. “

What is unusual is the speed at which it digests other materials and swallows mass. And this, at the rate of approximately one sun per day, which is enormous. This makes it very, very bright

 ,” added scientist Rachel Webster, from the University of Melbourne,

to the BBC

Indeed, the supermassive black hole sheltered by this quasar emits light equivalent to that of more than 500 billion suns, according to the ESO press release. But the existence of such a massive and luminous object in the early Universe remains “

difficult to explain

,” notes the study.

As the researchers point out, all galaxies appear to have

a supermassive object at their core

, which likely means that these objects are inherent to the evolution of galaxies. “

Simply put, this means that without these black holes, our galaxy as we know it would not be what it is today.

In fact, it is even possible that all galaxies form around these supermassive black holes

 ,” Samuel Lai, a doctoral student at ANU and co-author of the study, told the BBC.

Also read: Image proof of a black hole at the heart of our galaxy: “A technological feat”


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