Scientists say an unusual streak in space might be the sign of a runaway supermassive black hole lurking at the edge of the universe
A supermassive black hole found lurking at the edge of the universe is one of the biggest ever detected, according to scientists. The galaxy, nicknamed COS-87259, shines bright from the intense burst of star formation.
The cosmic colossus lies at the centre of an extreme galaxy and is said to date back more than 13 billion years which is only 750 million years after the Big Bang.
The black hole reportedly contains over a billion solar masses worth of interstellar dust – forming stars 1,000 times faster than our own Milky Way. The discovery is said to possibly hold the answers to one of the biggest astronomical mysteries, which is how supermassive black holes have evolved in space.
It’s been reported that the primordial black hole is heavily enshrouded by cosmic ‘dust’, causing nearly all of its light to be emitted in the mid-infrared range of the electromagnetic spectrum. Additionally, the black hole has an active galactic nucleus which is generating a strong jet of material moving close to the speed of light.
Lead author Dr Ryan Endsley, of The University of Texas at Austin, said: “These results suggest very early supermassive black holes were often heavily obscured by dust, perhaps as a consequence of the intense star formation activity in their host galaxies.
Endsley added: “This is something others have been predicting for a few years now, and it’s really nice to see the first direct observational evidence supporting this scenario.”
Dr Endsley also said: “While nobody expected to find this kind of object in the very early Universe, its discovery takes a step towards building a much better understanding of how billion solar mass black holes were able to form so early on in the lifetime of the Universe, as well how the most massive galaxies first evolved.”
It’s also believed to be a missing link between galaxies that produce lots of stats like the sun and the first supermassive black holes. The US team made the discovery using data collected by ALMA (Atacama Large Millimeter Array) which is a radio observatory sited in the Chilean Andes.
What is a Supermassive black hole?
A supermassive black hole is the largest type of black hole. Supermassive black holes are millions, or sometimes even billions the size of our Sun, and astronomers believe they can be found at the centre of all large galaxies, including our own Milky Way.
Black holes are a class of astronomical objects that have undergone gravitational collapse, leaving behind spheroidal regions of space from which nothing can escape, not even light. Researchers have found evidence indicating a black hole is at the centre of almost every large galaxy.