NASA scientists have discovered the oldest black hole so far, formed just 470 million years after the Big Bang.
The discovery validates theories that suggest the existence of supermassive black holes at the universe's inception. The black hole, located in the UHZ1 galaxy, is around 13.2 billion years old and ten times bigger than the black hole in the Milky Way galaxy.
Scientists believe that the hole’s mass falls between 10 and 100 million Suns. This mass range is similar to that of all the stars in its galaxy. According to NASA, the black hole is at an early stage of growth that has never been witnessed before, where its mass is similar to that of its host galaxy. Usually, a black hole contains only about a tenth of a percent of the mass of their host galaxy’s stars.
The researchers believe that the formation of the black hole can be attributed to the gravitational collapse of immense clouds of gas within a neighboring galaxy. The discovery was made by combining data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and NASA’s James Webb Space Telescopes
“We needed Webb to find this remarkably distant galaxy and Chandra to find its supermassive black hole,” said lead scientist Akos Bogdan.
The two telescopes, Webb and Chandra, used a technique called gravitational lensing to magnify the region of space where the black hole is located. Two weeks of observations with Chandra showed highly energetic, superheated gas emitting X-rays within this galaxy, a distinctive indicator of the presence of a developing supermassive black hole.
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