Astronomers Discover the Most Explosive Black Hole Yet
The stereotypical black hole is a region of space that powerfully sucks in anything that comes near. While that’s sort-of true, many black holes are surrounded by quasars: dense, matter-rich regions at the centers of galaxies that eject astonishing volumes of radio waves, light and many other forms of energy.
Astronomers, using data from the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope in Chile, have spotted a quasar (labelled SDSS J1106+1939) that is spewing more energy than any one found previously. “The rate that energy is carried away by this huge mass of material ejected at high speed from SDSS J1106+1939 is at least equivalent to two million times the power output of the Sun,” said Nahum Arav of Virginia Tech in a statement. “This is about 100 times higher than the total power output of the Milky Way galaxy—it’s a real monster of an outflow.”
Quasars, some of the most luminous and energetic objects in the known universe, result from matter drawn in by the immense gravitational force of the largest type of black holes. While all this gravity easily sucks in visible light, scientists believe much of the matter doesn’t make it all the way in, instead condensing into a swirling accretion disk.