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NASA discovered record-breaking black hole 13.2 billion light-years from Earth

In a groundbreaking astronomical feat, a team of researchers utilizing NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and the James Webb Space Telescope have unveiled a black hole, the likes of which has never been observed before. Situated at a staggering 13.2 billion light-years away, this black hole presents a unique stage of early development, challenging our understanding of cosmic phenomena.

This colossal black hole, nestled within the galaxy UHZ1, is unique for its mass, which intriguingly rivals that of its host galaxy. This finding is pivotal in explaining the formation of some of the universe’s earliest supermassive black holes. The significance of this discovery lies in its timing – merely 470 million years post the Big Bang, offering a glimpse into a period when the universe was just 3% of its present age.

Formation of a Heavy Seed Black Hole from Direct Collapse of a Massive Cloud of Gas (Credit: NASA/STScI/Leah Hustak)

The joint efforts of the Chandra and Webb telescopes have been crucial. Over two weeks of meticulous observations by Chandra allowed for the detection of faint x-ray emissions, a hallmark of a burgeoning supermassive black hole. The challenge of detecting such a distant and faint signal was overcome by the phenomenon of gravitational lensing, amplifying the signal by 400%.

This discovery holds the key to unraveling the mysteries of early supermassive black hole formation. Do they emerge from the collapse of massive gas clouds, or are they remnants of the first-generation stars? This observation strongly supports the theory of formation from massive gas clouds.

As the scientific community continues to delve into these findings, combining data from Webb with other telescopes, we stand on the brink of a new understanding of black holes in the early universe.