Feeds

Scientists spot really, really big black hole

More energy than 20 trillion suns

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

The discovery of a 12.7bn light-year distant supermassive black hole has challenged astronomers' understanding of star and galaxy formation. NASA's Chandra X-Ray observatory spotted the object, which is generating energy at the rate of twenty trillion suns, at the heart of a quasar formed less than a billion years after the big bang.

Astronomers Daniel Schwartz and Shanil Virani of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics discovered the quasar, known as SDSSp J1306. They found that its X-ray spectrum is a near perfect match to nearer, and hence older (or at least longer lived) quasars. Meanwhile, optical measurements suggest the quasar is a billion times more massive than our sun. Their results have been published in The Astrophysical Journal.

This similarity between the young and old supermassive black holes means that the objects form much earlier in the universe's history than previously imagined. By way of explanation, scientists suggest that the super massive black holes might have formed from millions of smaller black holes. These smaller objects, left over from the collapses of young, very massive stars gradually merged, creating a billion solar mass black hole at the centre of the galaxy.

"[The] results seem to indicate that the way supermassive black holes produce X-rays has remained essentially the same from a very early date in the Universe," said Schwartz. "This implies that the central black hole engine in a massive galaxy was formed very soon after the big bang."

This is the second so-called "early epoch" supermassive blackhole to be discovered. In August this year scientists from the UK and from Caltech reported discovering a similar quasar at a distance of 12.8bn light years using the XMM-Newton X-ray satellite. They found essentially the same result for the X-ray spectrum as the Smithsonian scientists have just announced.

Astronomers now plan to use the Chandra X-ray observatory to hunt for quasars even further back in the history of the universe. ®

Related stories

Boffins baffled by suburban quasars
Astronomers probe Cassiopeia's secrets
Astronomers uncover mystery at galactic core

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Antarctic ice THICKER than first feared – penguin-bot boffins
Robo-sub scans freezing waters, rocks warming models
I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations
Quick, call the Time Cops to sort out this paradox!
Your PHONE is slowly KILLING YOU
Doctors find new Digitillnesses - 'text neck' and 'telepressure'
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
Rosetta science team thinks Philae might come to life in the spring
And disclose the biggest surprise of Comet 67P
Bond villains lament as Wicked Lasers withdraw death ray
Want to arm that shark? Better get in there quick
prev story

Whitepapers

Free virtual appliance for wire data analytics
The ExtraHop Discovery Edition is a free virtual appliance will help you to discover the performance of your applications across the network, web, VDI, database, and storage tiers.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
The total economic impact of Druva inSync
Examining the ROI enterprises may realize by implementing inSync, as they look to improve backup and recovery of endpoint data in a cost-effective manner.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Website security in corporate America
Find out how you rank among other IT managers testing your website's vulnerabilities.