top of page

NASA Telescopes Discover Record-Breaking Black Hole From the Early Universe

Astronomers have made a groundbreaking discovery by detecting the most distant black hole ever observed in X-rays, using cutting-edge NASA telescopes. What sets this finding apart is that the black hole is at an astonishingly early stage of growth, challenging conventional wisdom and shedding light on the mysterious origins of supermassive black holes in the early universe.

This image contains the most distant black hole ever detected in X-rays, a result that may explain how some of the first supermassive black holes in the universe formed. As we report in our press release, this discovery was made using X-rays from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory (purple) and infrared data from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (red, green, blue). The extremely distant black hole is located in the galaxy UHZ1 in the direction of the galaxy cluster Abell 2744. The galaxy cluster is about 3.5 billion light-years from Earth. Webb data, however, reveal that UHZ1 is much farther away than Abell 2744. At some 13.2 billion light-years away, UHZ1 is seen when the universe was only 3% of its current age. Credit: Chandra X-ray Center
This image contains the most distant black hole ever detected in X-rays, a result that may explain how some of the first supermassive black holes in the universe formed. As we report in our press release, this discovery was made using X-rays from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory (purple) and infrared data from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (red, green, blue). The extremely distant black hole is located in the galaxy UHZ1 in the direction of the galaxy cluster Abell 2744. The galaxy cluster is about 3.5 billion light-years from Earth. Webb data, however, reveal that UHZ1 is much farther away than Abell 2744. At some 13.2 billion light-years away, UHZ1 is seen when the universe was only 3% of its current age. Credit: Chandra X-ray Center

A collaborative effort between NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and the James Webb Space Telescope, this achievement comes courtesy of a team of dedicated researchers. They identified a telltale signature of a growing black hole a mere 470 million years after the Big Bang, providing crucial insights into the cosmic evolution.


Akos Bogdan, leading the team from the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian, remarked, "We needed Webb to find this remarkably distant galaxy and Chandra to find its supermassive black hole. We also took advantage of a cosmic magnifying glass that boosted the amount of light we detected." This cosmic magnification, known as gravitational lensing, played a pivotal role in enhancing the researchers' ability to study the distant black hole.


The black hole, nestled within a galaxy known as UHZ1 and situated in the galaxy cluster Abell 2744, is located an astonishing 13.2 billion light-years from Earth. What is particularly striking is that this discovery challenges our understanding of how supermassive black holes achieve colossal masses so rapidly after the Big Bang.

There are two leading theories regarding the formation of supermassive black holes: one suggests they are born directly from the collapse of massive gas clouds, resulting in black holes weighing between 10,000 and 100,000 times the mass of our sun. The other theory posits that they arise from the explosions of the first stars, producing black holes with masses ranging from 10 to 100 times that of our sun.


Andy Goulding of Princeton University, a co-author of the research, noted, "There are physical limits on how quickly black holes can grow once they've formed, but ones that are born more massive have a head start. It's like planting a sapling, which takes less time to grow into a full-size tree than if you started with only a seed."


Based on the brightness and energy of the X-rays observed, the research team has strong evidence that this black hole was born massive, with an estimated mass between 10 and 100 million times that of our sun. Remarkably, this mass range closely aligns with the mass of all the stars within its host galaxy, an observation that starkly contrasts with black holes in the centers of galaxies in our nearby universe.


The confirmation of this "Outsize Black Hole" offers compelling evidence that some supermassive black holes indeed form from massive gas clouds. According to co-author Priyamvada Natarajan of Yale University, "For the first time, we are seeing a brief stage where a supermassive black hole weighs about as much as the stars in its galaxy, before it falls behind."


This groundbreaking discovery marks a significant step forward in our understanding of the early universe and the formation of supermassive black holes. The researchers plan to leverage data from the Webb telescope and other telescopes to build a more comprehensive picture of the cosmic past.


This remarkable feat was made possible by the insights provided by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, which demonstrated the magnification of light from distant galaxies by intervening galaxy clusters. The research paper describing these findings appears in Nature Astronomy and represents a remarkable achievement in our exploration of the cosmos.

1 view0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Commentaires

Noté 0 étoile sur 5.
Pas encore de note

Ajouter une note
bottom of page