Scientists have identified the most distance source of radio wavelengths known to date. With the help of the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (its actual name), astronomers were able to study the bright space object known as a quasar.
Space.com defines quasars as “distant objects powered by black holes a billion times as massive as our sun.” According to the National Observatory of Japan, only about 10 percent of quasars emit strong radio waves, like the newly-discovered P172+18.
In a press release, the ESO said that the bright cosmic object traveled for about 13 billion years before it reached Earth. It added that P172+18 is “consuming gas at a stunning rate.”
“The black hole is eating up matter very rapidly, growing in mass at one of the highest rates ever observed,” said ESO astronomer Chiara Mazzucchelli. “I find it very exciting to discover ‘new’ black holes for the first time, and to provide one more building block to understand the primordial Universe, where we come from, and ultimately ourselves,” she added.
The radio-loud quasar can provide insight to astronomers on how black holes were able to grow so quickly after the Big Bang. Furthermore, the team that discovered P172+18 believes it could be the first of many.
“This discovery makes me optimistic and I believe — and hope — that the distance record will be broken soon,” said Eduardo Bañados of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Germany, who helped lead the discovery with Mazzucchelli.
Elsewhere in space, a giant asteroid named Apophis “flew past” Earth last week, safely millions of miles away.