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A colossus that devours everything and has a mass of 800 million soles.
“It is the most distant supermassive black hole that has ever been detected,” Chilean astronomer Eduardo Bolaños , lead author of the study announcing the discovery in the journal Nature , told BBC Mundo .
Bolaños, a scientist at the Carnegie Institute for Science in California, explained that the black hole “is swallowing material at the center of a very massive galaxy.”
The black hole is a little over 13 .000 million light years .
That means that the light detected around the black hole began its journey towards Earth 13 billion years ago. The age of the Earth, in comparison, is 4,500 million years.
“When distances are greater that means we look further back in time,” said Bolaños.
“As a child of two and a half years”
Black holes are regions of space where the gravitational attraction is so strong that nothing can escape, not even light .
Since they devour light, they are studied through the light emitted by the gas that surrounds them.
The supermassive black hole is found in an exceptionally luminous celestial object called quasar.
The quasar light detected by researchers dates back to 690 million years after the Big Bang(the huge explosion that would have given rise to the universe). The black hole is from the period when the universe was only 5% of its age .
“So if the universe were a person of 50 years , what we are seeing with the discovery is an image of the person when he was two and a half years old ,” explained Bolaños.
In the case of the black hole discovered by Bolaños and his colleagues, it is from a time when the universe began to move from its ” dark age “, without emitting light, to another of luminosity, when matter condensed by gravity to form the first stars.
“This object allows us to peek into the time when the universe began to be illuminated by starlight,” researcher Robert Simcoe , a professor at the Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology , told Reuters. .
The supermassive black hole was detected with data collected by telescopes in Chile and Hawaii, as well as a NASA space telescope, Wide Field Infrared Explorer, Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer or WISE.
“A monster like e ste”
Finding the colossus was a surprise to scientists.
“Despite extensive research, it took more than half a decade to detect something so distant in the history of the universe, ” Bolaños said.
The supermassive black hole will help to understand the conditions that existed in the early stages of the universe.
“This discovery shows that there was a process in operation at that early stage of the universe that allowed us to create a monster like this,” said Bolaños.
“What is that process? Well, that question will keep the scientists very busy.”