Feeds

Scientists spot really, really big black hole

More energy than 20 trillion suns

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

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

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Boffins attempt to prove the UNIVERSE IS JUST A HOLOGRAM
Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
LOHAN tunes into ultra long range radio
And verily, Vultures shall speak status unto distant receivers
SpaceX prototype rocket EXPLODES over Texas. 'Tricky' biz, says Elon Musk
No injuries or near injuries. Flight stayed in designated area
Galileo, Galileo! Galileo, Galileo! Galileo fit to go. Magnifico
I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me. But at least I can find my way with ESA GPS by 2017
EOS, Lockheed to track space junk from Oz
WA facility gets laser-eyes out of the fog
China building SUPERSONIC SUBMARINE that travels in a BUBBLE
Shanghai to San Fran in two hours would be a trick, though
prev story

Whitepapers

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup
Learn why inSync received the highest overall rating from Druva and is the top choice for the mobile workforce.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.