Researchers now have a better understanding of the black hole known as J2157 and its gluttonous behavior.
The fastest-growing black hole in the universe is 34 billion times the mass of our sun and feasts on a meal the equivalent of our sun each day, according to a study.
This massive, hungry black hole was first identified and studied by researchers in
May 2018. Previously, they believed it consumed the mass equivalent to our sun every two days. Now, they have a better understanding of this monster black hole and its gluttonous behavior.
The study was published Wednesday in the journal
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
The black hole is known as J2157 and exists more than 12 billion light-years back in the distant universe. Astronomers are trying to understand how such massive black holes could evolve during the early days of the universe. The researchers continue to search for more massive black holes like this one to understand how they have grown.
"It's the biggest black hole that's been weighed in this early period of the universe," said Christopher Onken, lead study author and research fellow at the Australian National University's Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics, in a statement. "We're seeing it at a time when the universe was only 1.2 billion years old, less than 10 per cent of its current age."
It dwarfs the supermassive black hole called Sagittarius A* in our own Milky Way galaxy.
"The black hole's mass is about 8,000 times bigger than the black hole in the center of the Milky Way," Onken said. "If the Milky Way's black hole wanted to grow that fat, it would have to swallow two thirds of all the stars in our galaxy."
The SkyMapper telescope at the Australian National University's Siding Spring Observatory was able to detect the black hole by its near-infrared light after it traveled across billions of light-years to reach us on Earth.
Monster force of nature
Astronomers first discovered the J2157 black hole due to its brightness in ultraviolet light. While light can't escape from black holes, this black hole emits X-rays and ultraviolet light that are created due to its enormous appetite.
Astronomers have also defined this particular black hole as the most luminous known quasar. Quasars are supermassive black holes in galaxies that emit so much energy through their gaseous disks that they appear like stars through telescopes.
"This black hole is growing so rapidly that it's shining thousands of times more brightly than an entire galaxy, due to all of the gases it sucks in daily that cause lots of friction and heat," said Christian Wolf, an author on both the 2018 and new studies and associate professor at Australian National University, when the black hole was first discovered two years ago.
"If we had this monster sitting at the center of our Milky Way galaxy, it would appear 10 times brighter than a full moon. It would appear as an incredibly bright pin-point star that would almost wash out all of the stars in the sky. It would likely make life on Earth impossible with the huge amounts of X-rays emanating from it."
The new study followed up on the black hole by using the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope in Chile to measure its mass.
"We knew we were onto a very massive black hole when we realized its fast growth rate," said Fuyan Bian, study coauthor and staff astronomer at the European Southern Observatory, in a statement.
"How much black holes can swallow depends on how much mass they already have. So, for this one to be devouring matter at such a high rate, we thought it could become a new record holder. And now we know."
Further study and observation of this black hole will also shed light on its host galaxy, which may reveal more information about the early universe and how massive black holes evolved early on.
"With such an enormous black hole, we're also excited to see what we can learn about the galaxy in which it's growing," Onken said. "Is this galaxy one of the behemoths of the early universe, or did the black hole just swallow up an extraordinary amount of its surroundings? We'll have to keep digging to figure that out."
30 years of photos from the Hubble telescope
NASA's Hubble Space Telescope sent back its first image from space on May 20, 1990. Here are some of the iconic images Hubble has sent back since.
In this image provided by NASA, ESA and the Hubble SM4 ERO Team, a stellar jet in the Carina Nebula is pictured in space.
Space shuttle Atlantis
In this tightly cropped handout image provided by NASA, the NASA space shuttle Atlantis is seen in silhouette during solar transit at 10:27 a.m. EDT, May 18, 2009, from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla.
This image gives the most detailed view so far of the entire Crab Nebula ever made. The image is the largest image ever taken with Hubble's WFPC2 workhorse camera.
This image from the Hubble Space Telescope shows a group of galaxies called the Seyfert's Sextet on June 26, 2000. Although the name of this grouping suggests that there are six, there are in reality only four galaxies in the group that are slowly merging into one.
This NASA Hubble Space Telescope image shows a pair of one-half-light-year-long interstellar "twisters," eerie funnels and twisted-rope structures, in the heart of the Lagoon Nebula, which lies 5,000 light-years away in the direction of the constellation Sagittarius. The central hot star, O Herschel 36 (lower right), is the primary source of the ionizing radiation for the brightest region in the nebula, called the Hourglass.
Spiral galaxy NGC 4631
An image of NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and Hubble Space Telescope shows a halo of hot gas surrounding spiral galaxy NGC 4631 that is similar to the Milky Way galaxy, June 19, 2001. The orange color in the middle of the image represents ultraviolet radiation as observed by UIT, tracing massive stars in the galaxy.
Little Ghost Nebula
The Hubble Space Telescope took this image of a dying star named "NGC 6369" on Nov. 7, 2002. The star, also known as the "Little Ghost Nebula," is 2000 to 5000 light years from Earth and is similar in mass to our sun. The ghostly halo surrounding the star is caused by the shedding of the star's outer layers during the final stages of its life cycle.
404694 01: The Cone Nebula, An Innocuous Pillar Of Gas And Dust, Is Seen In This Picture Unveiled By Astronomers April 30, 2002. This Picture, Taken In 1995 By The Advanced Camera For Surveys Aboard Nasa's Hubble Space Telescope, Shows The Upper 2.5 Lightyears Of The Nebula, A Height That Equals 23 Million Roundtrips To The Moon. The Entire Nebula Is 7 Lightyears Long. The Cone Nebula Resides 2,500 Lightyears Away In The Constellation Monoceros. (Photo By Nasa/Getty Images)
UNDATED PHOTO: Resembling a flaming creature on the run, this image exposes the hidden interior of a dark and dusty cloud in the emission Nebula IC 1396. Young stars previously obscured by dust can be seen here for the first time. (Photo by NASA via Getty Images)
UNDATED PHOTO: An image of a Cas A supernova reveals the remnants of a section of the upper rim of the youngest known supervova identified in our Milky Way galaxy. Dozens of tiny clumps near the top of the image are actually small fragments of the star and each clump is approximately ten times larger than the diameter of our solar system. The varying colors of the supernova are caused by glowing atoms. (NASA/Getty Images)
SPACE, SPACE: This image released 07 October, 2004 by NASA shows Kepler's supernova remnant produced by combining data from NASA's three Great Observatories -- the Hubble Space Telescope, the Spitzer Space Telescope, and the Chandra X-ray Observatory. Kepler's supernova was first seen 400 years ago by sky watchers, including famous astronomer Johannes Kepler. The combined image unveils a bubble-shaped shroud of gas and dust that is 14 light-years wide and is expanding at 4 million miles per hour (2,000 kilometers per second). AFP PHOTO/NASA (Photo credit should read HO/AFP via Getty Images)
SPACE - APRIL 25: In this composite handout image released from the Hubble Space Telescope the Whirlpool Galaxy and Eagle Nebula (L) are seen , April 25, 2005 released for the Hubble's 15th anniversary. Nasa's Space Telescope has obited the Earth for 15 years and has taken more than 700,000 images of the comos. These images are two of the sharpest images Hubble has ever produced, taken with the newest camera. (Photo by Hubble Space Telescope/Nasa via Getty Images)
IN SPACE - UNDATED: In this handout provided by NASA, a visible-light image from the Hubble Space Telescope shows a red ring of dust and debris that surrounds the star Fomalhaut and the newly discovered planet, Fomalhaut b, orbiting its parent star. (NASA via Getty Images)
IN SPACE - This undated image taken by the Hubble telescope shows Pluto and its moons: Charon, Nix, and Hydra.The International Astronomical Union announced on August 24, 2006 that it no longer considers Pluto a planet, a status it has held since its discovery in 1930. The announcement reduces the solar system from nine planets to eight. (NASA/Getty Images)
383508 01: A curtain of glowing gas is wrapped around Jupiter''s north pole like a lasso December 19, 2000 in a Hubble telescope photo. The curtain of light, called an aurora, is produced when high-energy electrons race along the planet''s magnetic field and into the upper atmosphere. The electrons excite atmospheric gases, causing them to glow. The aurora resembles the same phenomenon that crowns Earth''s polar regions. (Photo by NASA/Newsmakers)
One Of The Intrinsically Brightest Stars In Our Galaxy Appears As The Bright White Dot In The Center Of This Image Taken With Nasa'S Hubble Space Telescope. Hubble'S Near Infrared Camera And Multi-Object Spectrometer (Nicmos) Was Needed To Take The Picture, Because The Star Is Hidden At The Galactic Center, Behind Obscuring Dust. Nicmos' Infrared Vision Penetrated The Dust To Reveal The Star, Which Is Glowing With The Radiance Of 10 Million Suns. The Image Also Shows One Of The Most Massive Stellar Eruptions Ever Seen In Space. The Radiant Star Has Enough Raw Power To Blow Off Two Expanding Shells (Magenta) Of Gas Equal To The Mass Of Several Of Our Suns. The Largest Shell Is So Big (4 Light-Years) It Would Stretch Nearly All The Way From Our Sun To The Next Nearest Star. The Outbursts Seen By Hubble Are Estimated To Be Only 4,000 And 6,000 Years Old, Respectively. Despite Such A Tremendous Mass Loss, Astronomers Estimate The Extraordinary Star May Presently Be 100 Times More Massive Than Our Sun, And May Have Started With As Much As 200 Solar Masses Of Material, But It Is Violently Shedding Much Of Its Mass. The Star Is 25,000 Light-Years Away In The Direction Of The Constellation Sagittarius. Despite Its Great Distance, The Star Would Be Visible To The Naked Eye As A Modest 4Th Magnitude Object If It Were Not For The Dust Between It And The Earth. This False-Colored Image Is A Composite Of Two Separately Filtered Images Taken With The Nicmos, On September 13,1997. The Field Of View Is 4.8 Light-Years Across, At The Star'S Distance Of 25,000 Light-Years. Resolution Is 0.075 Arc Seconds Per Pixel. (Photo By Getty Images)
N365573 01: Hubble resumes gazing at the Heavens by taking a look at the "Eskimo" Nebula In its first glimpse of the heavens following the successful December 1999 servicing mission March 6, 2000. NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has captured a majestic view of a planetary nebula, the glowing remains of a dying, sun-like star. This stellar relic, first spied by William Herschel in 1787, is nicknamed the "Eskimo" Nebula because, when viewed through ground-based telescopes, it resembles a face surrounded by a fur parka. (Photo by NASA)
N366041 01: Just weeks after NASA astronauts repaired the Hubble Space Telescope in December, 1999, the Hubble Heritage Project snapped this picture of NGC 1999, a nebula in the constellation Orion. The Heritage astronomers, in collaboration with scientists in Texas and Ireland, used Hubble's Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2) to obtain the color image. (Courtesy of NASA)
390417 01: These Hubble Space Telescope images, captured from 1996 to 2000, show Saturn''s rings open up from just past edge-on to nearly fully open as it moves from autumn towards winter in its Northern Hemisphere, part of the course of its 29-year journey around the Sun. (Photo courtesy of NASA via Getty Images)
395823 01: (FILE PHOTO) A comparison image of the planet Mars reveals October 11, 2001 that a global dust storm has engulfed the planet. The storm is comprised of fine dust and obscures all surface features. This image was captured by the Hubble Telescope. (NASA/Getty Images)
368100 02: FILE PHOTO: The Stingray Nebula as photographed by the Hubble Space Telescope April 2, 1998. the Hubble celebrates its 10th anniversary on April 24, 2000. (Photo courtesy NASA)
This Hubble Space Telescope image released by NASA's Hubble Heritage team 04 February shows the self-destruction of a massive star called supernova 1987-A (C) in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a near-by galaxy. Astronomers in the Southern hemisphere witnessed the explosion of this star on 23 February, 1987. The supernova remnant is surrounded by inner and outer rings of material. This is a three-color composite image of the supernova and its neighboring region taken with the Wide Field and Planetary Camera 02 in September 1994, February 1996 and July of 1997. AFP PHOTO NASA/HUBBLE HERITAGE TEAM (Photo by - / NASA/HUBBLE HERITAGE TEAM / AFP) (Photo by -/NASA/HUBBLE HERITAGE TEAM/AFP via Getty Images)
This 06 April 1994 image taken by the Hubble Space Telescope shows stars that lie near the center of our galaxy some 25,000 light-years distant. But one object, the blue curved streak (Upper-R), is something much closer. An uncatalogued, mile-wide bit of rocky debris orbiting the Sun only light-minutes away strayed into the cameras field while the image was being exposed. This and about a hundred other interlopers have been found by Jet Propulsion Laboratory astronomers who have systematically searched the HST archive for these nearby objects. Their analysis indicates this asteroid's orbit could cross Mars' path. Seen briefly by HST, these asteroids are too small and faint to track from the ground long enough for precise orbits to be determined. AFP PHOTO NASA/HUBBLE HERITAGE TEAM (Photo by - / NASA / AFP) (Photo by -/NASA/AFP via Getty Images)
DECEMBER 4: This is a Hubble Space Telescope "family portrait" of the four largest moons of Jupiter, released 10 October, first observed by the Italian scientist Galileo Galilei nearly four centuries ago. Located approximately one-half billion miles away, the moons are so small that, in visible light, they appear as fuzzy disks in the largest ground-based telescopes. Over the past year Hubble has charted new volcanic activity on Io's active surface, a faint oxygen atmosphere on the moon Europa, identified ozone on the surface of Ganymede and shown fresh ice on the surface of Callisto that may indicate impacts from micrometeorites and charged particles from Jupiter's magnetosphere. The Galileo probe is due to land on Jupiter 07 December. NASA/AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read NOL/AFP via Getty Images)
This April 1996 image released 18 February by the Space Telescope Science Institute and made with the Hubble space telescope shows this beautiful, eerie silhouette of dark dust clouds against the glowing nucleus of the elliptical galaxy NGC 1316 that may represent the aftermath of a 100 million year old cosmic collision between the elliptical and a smaller companion galaxy. AFP PHOTO/Carl Grillmair/California Institute of Technology (Photo by - / NASA / AFP) (Photo by -/NASA/AFP via Getty Images)
IN SPACE - AUGUST 26: This image released August 27, 2003 captured by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope shows a close-up of the red planet Mars when it was just 34,648,840 miles (55,760,220 km) away. This color image was assembled from a series of exposures taken between 6:20 p.m. and 7:12 p.m. EDT August 26, 2003 with Hubble's Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2. The picture was taken just 11 hours before the planet made its closest approach to Earth in 60,000 years. Many small, dark, circular impact craters can be seen, attesting to the Hubble telescope's ability to reveal fine detail on the planet's surface. (Photo by NASA/Getty Images)
The sun reflects off the newly installed solar panels of the Hubble Space Telescope as it sits in the cargo bay of the Space Shuttle Endeavour 09 December 1993. The panels were installed by the shuttle's crew earlier this week and successfully deployed 09 December. (Photo credit should read NASA VIDEO/AFP via Getty Images)
Hubble Space Telescope
Jeff Rudolph, president of the California Science Center in Los Angeles, is photographed in front of a Hubble Space Telescope image of part of the Carina Nebula, a place in our galaxy where stars are born, at the California Science Center on Aug. 17, 2012.
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