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Quasar J0529-4351 is the brightest point in the Universe. One sun dies there every day

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The brightest quasar in the Universe has been identified by researchers. The object is seven light-years in diameter, and at its center there is a black hole that devours as much matter every day as is in our Sun.

Quasars, glowing distant nuclei galaxies, are some of the brightest objects in the Universe. At the heart of each of them is a supermassive black hole that feeds on huge amounts of cosmic matter. The long process of absorbing gas and dust releases very large amounts of energy, which is the source of extraordinary brightness. Now scientists have managed to describe the brightest quasar in the Universe so far.

It consumes more than one Sun a day

As researchers describe in an article published in “Nature Astronomy”, the object called J0529-4351 has been observed several times. It was first noticed in the 1980s, but it was not considered a quasar for one simple reason – it was so bright that it was automatically classified as a star not too distant from Earth.

Only last year, Australian astronomers managed to determine what kind of object they were dealing with. To confirm their observations, they used the Very Large Telescope (VLT) located in the Atacama Desert in Chile. The research was carried out using the X-Shooter spectrometer, and the collected data also provided insight into the black hole that feeds the quasar.

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– We managed to discover the fastest growing black hole known. It has the mass of 17 billion Suns and eats more than one Sun every day. This makes us the brightest object in the known Universe, explained Christian Wolf from the Australian National University, the lead author of the study.

Quasar J0529-4351 – artist’s visionESO/M. Kornmesser

Brighter than trillions of stars

As the researchers explained, the hot material that makes up J0529-4351 takes the form of a huge accretion disk. The diameter of the quasar is seven light years, or 15,000 times the distance between the Sun and the orbit of Neptune. It is far away – the light it emits takes over 12 billion years to reach us – but it is 500 trillion times brighter than our star. It is the brightest object we have ever observed in the Universe.

“It’s a surprise that it remained unknown for so long while we found about a million less impressive quasars,” added Christopher Onken, a co-author of the analysis from the Australian National University.

Finding and observing quasars and supermassive black holes can help us understand how galaxies formed in the early universe. In the future, scientists plan to look at J0529-4351 using the Gravity+ measurement instrument, which will soon be mounted on the VLT – its task will be to thoroughly analyze black holes.

Location of the record quasar J0529-4351ESO/Digitized Sky Survey 2/Dark Energy Survey

Main photo source: ESO/M. Kornmesser

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