Miracle! James Webb Telescope discovers OLDEST black hole in the universe

The James Webb Space Telescope has added yet another feather in its cap by discovering the oldest black hole ever in the universe.

| Updated on: Apr 14 2023, 17:48 IST
6 STRANGEST massive black hole discoveries in 2022 that shook the world
Black hole
1/6 One of the most startling discoveries of 2022 was a massive black hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy. Known as Sagittarius A*, a direct image of this massive space entity was taken by the Event Horizon Telescope. With around 4 times the mass of our Sun, it is believed that the black hole plays a key role in holding our galaxy together. (Photo courtesy: Nasa)
Black hole
2/6 Even as Sagittarius A* lies within our own galaxy, it is not the closest black hole to the Earth. That title goes to the cosmic matter eating void, lying 1,566 light years away from the Earth in the Ophiuchus constellation. It was discovered in November.  (NASA)
Black Hole
3/6 But if a black hole in our cosmic backyard does not scare you, maybe this will. 2022 was also the year scientists discovered a rogue black hole wandering in space. This discovery is particularly of value since it was always believed that isolated black holes exist but it was never seen due to the difficulty in spotting them. Usually all the black holes we know of are part of a binary system, along with a neutron star. (NASA)
Black hole
4/6 A rare moment occurred in December 2022 when NASA spotted a black hole eating a passing star in a rare moment known as a tidal disruption event. It was believed that the star consumed by the black hole was similar to our Sun.    (AP)
image caption
5/6 Even after decades of research and space exploration, we have still only observed just a few black holes in the universe. However, a study published this year has made some terrifying claims. Based on the number of stars spotted which are capable of turning into a black hole, and some number crunching on the potential number of stars that can exist, it was said that the universe currently contains 40 quintillion stellar-mass black holes. (AFP)
image caption
6/6 Finally, the brightest black hole was also discovered this year. Known as J1144, this monstrous black hole is 500 times larger than Sagittarius A* and apparently it consumes matter worth the size of the Earth every second. Because of its consumption rate, it has created a massive accretion disk which makes it so bright. In fact, it can even be seen using a regular telescope. (NASA)
black hole
View all Images
The supermassive black hole has a mass of 10 million times that of the sun. (Representative Image) (Unsplash)

Black holes are extremely dense regions of space formed by the collapse of giant stars at the end of their life cycle. They are places in space where the pull of gravity is so strong that nothing can escape, not even light. According to NASA, black holes can be differentiated into two, depending on their mass. The first is a Stellar Black Hole which is formed from a single star. The other is a Supermassive Black Hole which forms due to merging of other black holes.

Although black holes have been captured before by several space and ground-based telescopes, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has just discovered a stunning image of the black hole, one which lets us peek back in time.

Oldest black hole ever

The supermassive black hole, discovered by JWST, has a mass 10 times that of our Sun, according to Space.com. What's astonishing is this is the oldest black hole that has ever been discovered in the universe, at the center of a galaxy just 570 million years after the universe began.

Rebecca Larson, astrophysicist at the University of Texas at Austin and the lead author of the study which aided in the discovery told LiveScience, "This is the first one that we're finding at this redshift (point in time after the Big Bang), but there should be many of them. We do expect that this black hole didn't just form (recently), so there should be more that are younger and existed earlier on in the universe."

How was the black hole discovered?

To spot the black hole, the astronomers scanned the sky with two infrared cameras onboard the James Webb Space Telescope, namely MIRI and NIRCam. They used the cameras' built-in spectrographs to break down the light into its component frequencies.

The findings of the research were published on arXiv.

JWST's amazing tech

The James Webb Space Telescope captures various celestial objects in stunning detail with the help of its Near Infrared Camera (NIRCam) which is the primary camera onboard the telescope. It has three specialized filters and captures images in two different infrared ranges. Astonishingly, it can capture some of the farthest away near-infrared images ever obtained, detecting light from the first stars and galaxies. NIRCam also has coronagraphic and spectroscopic capabilities and is the primary tool for alignment of the telescope.

The space telescope also has Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI) and NIRSpec instruments onboard which aid in capturing mesmerizing snapshots of objects in space.

Follow HT Tech for the latest tech news and reviews , also keep up with us on Twitter, Facebook, Google News, and Instagram. For our latest videos, subscribe to our YouTube channel.

First Published Date: 14 Apr, 17:44 IST
keep up with tech