NASA telescopes find clues on cosmic seeds for giant black holes

The examiner is misusing the term cosmicseeds, but this is an interesting article nonetheless. 😉

You might have a black thumb when it comes to earthly seeds, but cosmic seeds grow big and black, making supermassive black holes. Using data from NASA’s Great Observatories, astronomers have found the best evidence yet for cosmic seeds in the early universe that should grow into supermassive black holes.

Most people are familiar with the astronomical term “black hole,” but don’t really know what it means. For those that do, there’s some interesting findings soon to be published. Researchers combined data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, Hubble Space Telescope, and Spitzer Space Telescope to identify these possible black hole seeds. They discuss their findings in a paper (“First Identification of Direct Collapse Black Hole Candidates in the Early Universe in CANDELS/GOODS-S”) that will appear in an upcoming issue of the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

“Our discovery, if confirmed, explains how these monster black holes were born,” said Fabio Pacucci of Scuola Normale Superiore (SNS) in Pisa, Italy, who led the study. “We found evidence that supermassive black hole seeds can form directly from the collapse of a giant gas cloud, skipping any intermediate steps.”

What are the current thoughts? Scientists believe a supermassive black hole lies in the center of nearly all large galaxies, including our own Milky Way. They have found that some of these supermassive black holes, which contain millions or even billions of times the mass of the sun, formed less than a billion years after the start of the universe in the Big Bang.


Illustration: NASA/CXC/M. Weiss

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