The James Webb Space Telescope Has Spotted Its Oldest Black Hole Yet
by Trisha Leigh
It’s no secret that science and technology is improving by leaps and bounds, so it shouldn’t be a shock that our telescopes are not only better than ever, but they’re seeing things they never have before, too.
This time, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) spotted a supermassive black hole inside one of the earliest known galaxies in the universe – which makes it the oldest we’ve ever seen.
The hole is around nine million times the mass of the sun and data suggests that it’s still growing. The galaxy where it exists is at least 13.2 billion years old.
Rebecca Larson, lead author of the black hole research published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, says this is interesting as far as the early history of the cosmos.
“We found the most distant active galactic nucleus (AGN) and the most distant, earliest black hole we’ve ever found. In the moment I was kind of like, wow look at everything we can see with JWST, we’ve seen this whole portion of the spectrum of this galaxy – and any galaxies early on in the Universe – we’ve never seen before. I was just overwhelmed by the amount of information.”
One of the things they saw was light from stars blinking into existence plus signs of fast-moving, swirling gas, which are both telltale signs of a growing black hole.
The scientists involved feel that the more things like this we discover, the more of the cosmos’ secrets could be understood.
“I don’t think my record will stand for long. And I hope it doesn’t, because I think that that’s more exciting, that we’re starting to answer these questions.”
I love how scientists are all about competition, but only because it helps them all find more answers.
Teamwork makes the dream work.