Black holes usually form by pulling in surrounding material into its core until it has gained enough mass such that the gas around it dissipates and the black hole is revealed in its full glory. Astronomers say they have found one of the farthest black holes to date which is still in its early stages of growth.
“It’s extraordinarily challenging to find quasars in this cloaked phase because so much of their radiation is absorbed and cannot be detected by current instruments,” said Fabio Vito of the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, in Santiago, Chile, who led the study. “Thanks to Chandra and the ability of X-rays to pierce through the obscuring cloud, we think we’ve finally succeeded.”
The new finding came from observations of a quasar called PSO167-13, which was first discovered by Pan-STARRS, an optical-light telescope in Hawaii. Optical observations from these and other surveys have detected about 180 quasars already shining brightly when the universe was less than a billion years old, or about 8 percent of its present age.
(Image credit: X-ray: NASA/CXO/Ponticifca Catholic Univ. of Chile/F. Vito; Radio: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO); Optical: Pan-STARRS)