Picture used for illustrative purposes only.
The black hole, with the mass of three billion suns, consumes the equivalent of one Earth every second and shines 7,000 times brighter than all the light from our own galaxy, according to the international team led by ANU astronomers that discovered it.
Astronomers have been hunting for objects like this for more than 50 years. They have found thousands of fainter ones, but this astonishingly bright one had slipped through unnoticed, lead researcher Christopher Onken of ANU said, calling it a very large, unexpected needle in the haystack.
"Now we want to know why this one is different — did something catastrophic happen? Perhaps two big galaxies crashed into each other, funnelling a whole lot of material onto the black hole to feed it," Onken said.
Co-author Christian Wolf called the record-setting black hole an outlier.
According to the team, the black hole, which has a visual magnitude of 14.5, is 500 times larger than the black hole in our Galaxy, meaning it could be easily seen by anyone with a decent telescope set up in a dark area.
The unexpected thin disc of material was found encircling a supermassive black hole at the heart of the spiral galaxy NGC 3147, located 130 million light-years away, according to a Study published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
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