Supermassive black hole lurking at edge of universe one of biggest ever detected

The supermassive black hole contains over a billion solar masses worth of interstellar dust and lies at the centre of an extreme galaxy and dates back over 13 billion years

A supermassive black hole lurking at the edge of the universe is one of the biggest ever detected.

It contains over a billion solar masses worth of interstellar dust – forming stars 1,000 times faster than our own Milky Way.

The cosmic colossus lies at the centre of an extreme galaxy and dates back more than 13 billion years – to only 750 million years after the Big Bang.

It could help answer one of the biggest mysteries in astronomy – how supermassive black holes in space evolved.

Lead author Dr Ryan Endsley, of The University of Texas at Austin, said: “These results suggest very early supermassive black holes were often heavily obscured by dust, perhaps as a consequence of the intense star formation activity in their host galaxies.

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“This is something others have been predicting for a few years now, and it’s really nice to see the first direct observational evidence supporting this scenario.”

It may even be a ‘missing link’ between galaxies that produce lots of stars like our Sun and the first supermassive black holes.

The US team made the discovery using data collected by ALMA (Atacama Large Millimeter Array) – a radio observatory sited in the Chilean Andes.

Did a hyper-black hole spawn the Universe? | Nature

The primordial black hole is heavily enshrouded by cosmic ‘dust’, causing nearly all of its light to be emitted in the mid-infrared range of the electromagnetic spectrum.

Its active galactic nucleus is generating a strong jet of material moving close to the speed of light.

Black holes with masses millions to billions of times greater than that of our own Sun sit at the centre of nearly every galaxy.

They are places in space where the pull of gravity is so strong that even light can’t escape it. This is what makes them invisible.

Supermassive black holes are millions, or sometimes even billions the size of our Sun.

Black holes: Everything you wanted to know these mysterious objects | BBC Science Focus Magazine

Astronomers believe they can be found at the centre of all large galaxies, including our own – The Milky Way.

Several have been found when the universe was very young. Their light takes so long to reach us we see them as they existed back in the dim and distant past – in this case, approximately five percent of the current age of the universe.

What is particularly astonishing about the new black hole is it was identified over a relatively small patch of the sky.

It suggests there could be thousands of similar black holes in the very early universe. This was completely unexpected from previous data.

The only other class of supermassive black holes we knew about in the very early universe are quasars – active black holes relatively unobscured by cosmic dust.

They are extremely rare at distances similar to COS-87259, with only a few located over the full sky.


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