A rare supermassive black hole found hiding at the dawn of the universe could indicate that there were thousands more of the ravenous monsters stalking the early cosmos than scientists thought — and astronomers aren’t sure why.
The primordial black hole is around 1 billion times the mass of our sun and was found at the center of the galaxy COS-87259. The ancient galaxy formed just 750 million years after the Big Bang and was spotted by the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA), a radio observatory in Chile, in a tiny patch of sky less than 10 times the size of the full moon.
Obscured beneath a cloak of turbulent stardust, the rapidly growing black hole was seen consuming part of its accretion disc of orbiting matter while spewing the leftovers out in a jet traveling close to the speed of light. The monster black hole appears to be at a rare intermediate stage of growth, somewhere between a dusty, star-forming galaxy and an enormous, brightly glowing black hole called a quasar.
And the cosmic behemoth could be just one of thousands of inexplicably large black holes lurking beneath the cloud cover of the early universe, the researchers suggest. They published their discovery Feb. 24 in the journal Monthly Notices of The Royal Astronomical Society. [Continue reading…]