It’s not every day that astronomers make a new discovery, and often when they do, they seem to make a lot out of nothing.
Those guys pop out the champagne if they discover a tiny new star a billion miles away, or a comet that’s not even heading remotely close enough to Earth to warrant a viewing of Armageddon.
So, we can only imagine the astronomers behind this latest find are nursing a pretty horrible hangover right now, because they just discovered a super-massive black hole weighing 12 billion times more than the sun.
Now that’s quite impressive. And for anyone who has seen Interstellar, yes, it does seem quite likely that it’s the kind of black hole controlled by a bunch of badass beings boasting extra dimensions to spare.
Anyway, the black hole is a solid 12.8 billion light years from Earth in a completely different galaxy, so it doesn’t look like Butlins or Cornwall are going to have to worry about a new rival in the tourism department too much.
In fact, the team of dudes behind the discovery couldn’t even see the black hole themselves, because apparently no light can escape from its pull.
With that in mind, you may be wondering if the astronomers might have just rediscovered Stoke again and mistaken it for a black hole, but no, the team were able to spot a giant ball of energy that gets hotter and hotter the closer it gets to the vaccum, so it does appear to be a legitimate new finding.
Either way, the story goes that the black hole grew to its current size a full 875 million years after the big bang, which is also approximately the amount of time it takes first time snowboarders to strap into their board.
Scientists are currently debating how the black hole got to grow so big, with some claiming it was formed in the merging of two black holes and others believing that stars at that end of the universe are just a hell of a lot bigger than previously thought.
Professor Xue-Bing Wu from Peking University, one of those involved in the finding, said: “We are so excited, when we found that there is such a luminous and massive [black hole] only 0.9bn years after the Big Bang.
“Its glowing light will help us to probe more about the early universe…”
“Just like the brightest lighthouse in the distant universe, its glowing light will help us to probe more about the early universe.”
The black hole, and surrounding energy known as the ‘quasar’ is said to give out twelve billion times the energy provided by the sun, and with Prof. Wu calling it the “brightest lighthouse in the universe”, it does make you wonder why it took so long to find.
Since its 12.8 billion light years away and all though, we think we’ll cut the research team a bit of slack on that one. Good job guys and girls, and high fives all round.