Curiosity

Astronomers discover the brightest object in the universe

Astronomers have discovered what may be the brightest object in the universe. The record-breaking "active galaxy"-bright core quasar has a black hole at its heart that's so big and growing so fast that it's absorbing the equivalent of one sun per day.

This is the energy called J0529-4351, which is much more interesting than its name.

For astronomers it is the brightest they have ever seen and they say it may be the brightest object in the universe.

The Australian team's discovery was reported Monday, February 19, in the journal Nature Astronomy.

It was first spotted in the 80s, but scientists say they are only now recognizing it for what it is.

These quasars are bright nuclei at the center of distant galaxies that can be seen through telescopes.

They get energy from black holes, which in the process absorb a lot of matter around them and create so much energy, thus emitting large amounts of light.

Researchers at the Australian National University initially thought they were looking at the brightest quasar ever seen in space. Observations from telescopes in Australia and the Atacama Desert in Chile have confirmed this.

These observations and computer models have determined that this quasar is swallowing the equivalent of 370 suns per year, roughly one per day.

More observations are needed to understand the growth rate.

The brighter it becomes, the faster the black hole grows.

Co-author Samuel Lai says this discovery has surprised astronomers.

"It's time for astronomers to become like children again and that we can look at the object and say: 'hey, we thought it was just a normal star, but in fact, it's 1.5 billion years old and it was so extraordinary when we identified it. this facility,'" explains Lai.

Mariya Lyubenova, an astronomer at the European Southern Observatory, was not part of the study.

But it explains how scientists were able to confirm that what they were seeing was a quasar and not a near-Earth star.

"What scientists did to understand the exact amount of this brightness was to look at the spectrum of this quasar using very precise instruments, namely the European Southern Observatory's Large Telescope. "Using a specific instrument called an x-shooter, which is like a Swiss army knife for astronomers because it is able to observe in a very long wavelength range at once, astronomers have been able to study different chemical patterns within the given object," he said. Lyubenova said.

Lai says the size of the quasar is remarkable compared to other quasars that have been studied.