Scientists Discover Oldest Black Hole Formed 470 Million Years After Big Bang

Scientists have made a discovery that uncovers the mysteries of our universe, the oldest black hole ever identified. This cosmic entity emerged just 470 million years after the Big Bang, on the early universe’s formation, supermassive black holes, and the nature of galactic evolution.

Oldest Black Hole Formed 470 Million Years After Big Bang

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The universe, as we know it, is approximately 13.7 billion years old. Therefore, the discovery of an Oldest black hole that dates back 13.2 billion years is astounding.

It means that this black hole formed at a time when the cosmos was just an infant. What’s more, this celestial entity is not your average black hole, it’s a behemoth, approximately ten times the size of the black hole at the center of our Milky Way galaxy.

The research, published recently, has provided a wealth of insights into the nature of this ancient black hole, now known as the oldest ever discovered.

The lead author of the study, Akos Bogdan from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, states that it is believed to weigh between 10% to 100% of the mass of all the stars in its host galaxy.

This is a departure from the relatively tiny black holes we are accustomed to in our cosmic neighborhood, which typically constitute only about 0.1% of their respective galaxy’s mass.

Priyamvada Natarajan from Yale University, who was part of the study, describes the discovery as “astounding.”

The presence of such a massive black hole at such an early stage in the universe’s history challenges existing theories and raises questions about the cosmic processes that led to its formation.

Scientists believe it was formed from colossal clouds of gas that underwent gravitational collapse in a galaxy that neighbored one with stars.

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The two galaxies eventually merged, and this newly formed black hole took center stage. One aspect of this discovery is the method used to confirm its existence as a black hole.

The Chandra X-ray Observatory detected it through X-ray emissions, providing evidence of its identity. When material is pulled into a black hole by its gravitational force, it accelerates and emits X-rays, allowing scientists to observe and verify the presence of the black hole.

This Oldest black hole is classified as a quasar because it is actively growing and the surrounding gas is luminous. The James Webb Space Telescope, launched in 2021, played a main role in this discovery.

Positioned approximately 1 million miles away from Earth, the Webb telescope is the most potent astronomical observatory ever sent into space.

Unlike visible light telescopes, it observes the universe in the infrared spectrum, which allows it to penetrate cosmic dust and capture the universe’s secrets hidden in the infrared emissions.

In this case, the Webb telescope may have even spotted an Oldest black hole that is 29 million years older than the one under investigation. However, further observations in X-rays are required to confirm its existence.

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The discovery of this ancient black hole opens a new window into the early universe. As Priyamvada Natarajan puts it, “We are expecting a new window to open in the universe, and I think this is the first crack.”

This suggests that more early black holes may be waiting to be unearthed, offering insights into the formation and evolution of the cosmos.

The two space telescopes, Webb and Chandra, used a technique known as gravitational lensing to magnify the region of space where the galaxy UHZ1 and its black hole are located.

This method involves using the gravitational pull of a nearby cluster of galaxies, situated 3.2 billion light-years from Earth, to magnify the distant galaxy UHZ1 and its black hole.

This process allowed scientists to observe and study this celestial object in detail. It’s a stroke of cosmic luck that nature magnified this discovery for us, as noted by Natarajan.

One aspect of this discovery is that it was made possible by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, which has been orbiting Earth since 1999.

Chandra’s ability to detect X-rays from distant celestial objects remains unparalleled even after 24 years of service. Akos Bogdan expressed his amazement at Chandra’s capacity to make discoveries.

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