2023年12月3日
閱讀時間:2分鐘
閱讀時間:2分鐘

Ancient Black Hole Formed 470 Million Years Post-Big Bang

Ancient Black Hole Formed 470 Million Years Post-Big Bang

Scientists have discovered the oldest black hole yet, formed just 470 million years after the Big Bang, using NASA's James Webb Space Telescope and Chandra X-Ray Observatory. At 13.2 billion years old, this black hole significantly predates the previous record holder. Shockingly, it is also 10 times more massive than the black hole at the center of our Milky Way galaxy.

Researchers estimate that this early black hole could weigh anywhere between 10% and 100% as much as the combined mass of all the stars in its home galaxy. This is much larger than the ratio typically seen in the black holes of nearby galaxies, which tend to have about 0.1% of the combined mass of their stars. Akos Bogdan, the lead author on an academic paper detailing the new discovery, calls it a "behemoth."

Scientists theorize that the black hole formed from the collapse of tremendous gas clouds in one of two neighboring galaxies, which later merged. X-ray detections by the Chandra Observatory confirm that it is definitively a black hole; the observed X-rays come from gas being pulled in by the black hole's intense gravity. This black hole is considered a "quasar," actively feeding on surrounding material and glowing very brightly.

While the Webb Telescope may have spotted an even older black hole, this one is the first to be verified through multi-wavelength observations. The Webb utilized gravitational lensing, where a massive nearby galaxy cluster magnified the light from this distant black hole's galaxy, allowing it to be detected.

Bogdan expects that more early black holes will be found, although not necessarily at such far-away distances. Yale professor Priyamvada Natarajan calls this discovery "the first crack" in a new window to observing the early universe, made possible through the power of new space telescopes like Webb and venerable instruments like Chandra.


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