Scientists Discover A New Type Of Supermassive Black Hole - Freshered
an artist's impression of a black hole in the sky
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Scientists Discover A New Type Of Supermassive Black Hole

Jasmyne Jeffery March 29, 2023

So much of space is beyond our comprehension, but most know what a black hole is, even if no one has even been through it. Movies, TV and plain old science have told us how devastating they are, so the news that scientists have discovered a new supermassive black hole is a little unsettling. Especially when it’s a new type. Don’t worry — there’s no need to send oil drillers to space or make Matthew McConaughey cry. It’s not the end of the world…yet.

News about what’s beyond Earth is equally thrilling and interesting and is it intimidating and existential-crisis-inducing. That’s particularly the case when it’s something as foreboding yet elusive as a black hole. Yes, scientists have discovered a new type of supermassive black hole, and it’s from the beginning of the universe.

Black Holes Are More Common Than You Think

When we say there’s no reason to be alarmed, we truly mean it. The new supermassive black hole is a distant galaxy, and it’s a new discovery, it doesn’t pose a threat, no matter how much we joke.

In fact, scientists and astronomers believe that there are black holes in almost all galaxies. That includes our very own Milky Way. That’s right, a few years ago that phenomenon was discovered and we bet you haven’t even noticed. Well, that’s because there’s no reason to.

Though the new one discovered is a little different to most, finding a new black hole in the vastness of outer space isn’t rare.

Photo by Aman Pal on Unsplash

New Supermassive Black Hole In ‘Extreme’ Galaxy

Astronomers at the University of Texas and the University of Arizona have discovered the rapidly growing black hole after studying an ‘extreme’ galaxy getting ‘exceedingly’ distant.

What’s vital about the new supermassive black hole is that it provides insight into how the very fight of its type was formed.

The galaxy, catchily named COS-87259, is extreme because it produces stars at a rate 1000 times more than our own. It also contains over a billion solar masses worth of stardust. This, combined with the enlarging supermassive black hole at its centre, make it shine incredibly brightly.

But, that’s not all that’s special about the new black hole. Scientists believe that it’s actually a newly discovered type. Already primordial, meaning it’s existed since the universe has, the way it emits light had peaked intrigue. This particular black hole only emits light in the mid-infrared range. This is due to the vast amount of cosmic dust it consumes, meaning they’re harder to see.

This suggests that the very early supermassive black holes would have been obscured by cosmic dust. The discovery helps prove the belief that they’ve developed in galaxies with huge star formation rates.

Speaking about the new discovery, the lead author of the paper, Ryan Endsley, said:

“While nobody expected to find this kind of object in the very early Universe, its discovery takes a step towards building a much better understanding of how billion solar mass black holes were able to form so early on in the lifetime of the Universe, as well how the most massive galaxies first evolved.”

So, although the black hole is facing Earth, the number of lightyears between us means it’s very unlikely to affect us. Still, new discoveries about space and all it contains can only advance our understanding.

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Jasmyne Jeffery is a full-time Entertainment and News Writer on university-themed website Freshered and HITC, and joined the company having previously worked in a freelance role. She attended the University of South Wales where she was also a student blogger and graduated in 2022 with a first-class honours degree in English and Creative Writing. Now, she puts her creativity to use reviewing university bars, Love Island episodes and the latest apps any 18-25-year-old is using.