A newly discovered black hole dwarfs everything previously known. The research team noticed one notable thing in particular.
Baltimore – Only with the help of two large space telescopes has an American research team managed to track down the oldest black hole in the universe. The black hole hidden at the center of the UHZ1 galaxy was only discovered by combining data from the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) and the Chandra X-ray Telescope. “We needed ‘Webb’ to find this extraordinarily distant galaxy and ‘Chandra’ to find its supermassive black hole,” says study leader Akos Bogdan of the Center for Astrophysics (CfA).
The JWST provided the infrared images, while “Chandra” provided the X-ray images of the black hole itself. A cosmic coincidence also played a role in the new discovery: Through the so-called gravitational lensing effect, the light from the galaxy was amplified four times, which allowed “Chandra” to detect the black hole.
The black hole formed 470 billion years after the Big Bang
This, together with its galaxy UHZ1, is located about 13.2 billion light-years from Earth – so it was created in the universe just 470 million years after the Big Bang. The black hole is an important discovery for astronomy: it should help explain how supermassive black holes managed to reach large masses in a short period of time after the Big Bang.
Bogdan’s research team determined that the newly discovered black hole was significant in size from the start. Based on X-rays, scientists estimate its mass to be between ten and 100 million solar masses.
Bogdan’s team has a theory, as co-author Andy Goulding explains in a NASA statement: “There are physical limits to how fast black holes can grow once they form. But those that are born more massive have an advantage It’s like planting a sapling that takes less time to grow into an adult tree than simply starting from a seed.
The black hole is as massive as the galaxy around it
Notably, the estimated mass of the black hole is approximately equal to the total mass of all stars in the UHZ1 galaxy, where the black hole is located. The situation is different for younger black holes: they usually contain only about a tenth of the stellar mass of their home galaxy.
“We believe this is the first discovery of a ‘large black hole’ and the best evidence yet that some black holes form from massive clouds of gas,” notes co-author Priyamvada Natarajan. “For the first time, we see a brief phase in which a supermassive black hole weighs as much as the stars in its galaxy before falling back.” The study is published in the journal Natural astronomy will be published and is already available as a preprint. (form)
For this article written by the editorial staff, mechanical assistance was used. The article was carefully checked by editor Tanja Banner before publication.