"Black Hole Milky Way" by Gallery of Space Time Travel / CC BY-SA 2.0

83 Gargantuan Black Holes Spotted Guzzling Down Dinner at the Edge of the Universe

Mar 18, 2019

By Stephanie Pappas

Astronomers have discovered 83 supermassive black holes birthed by the universe in its infancy.

More precisely, the researchers have detected quasars, or huge, luminous disks of gases and dust that surround supermassive black holes. (The black holes themselves emit no light or energy, of course, though friction from the matter that swirls around and ultimately into a black hole’s “mouth” does spit out immense light.) The quasars and their central black holes are 13 billion light-years away from Earth, meaning scientists are seeing the objects now as they appeared only 800 million years after the universe formed.

Prior to the new discovery, which was made using Japan’s Subaru Telescope, only 17 supermassive black holes were known from the region surveyed.

Quasars are the brightest objects in the universe, and they are found only around black holes that are millions of times the mass of Earth’s sun. The most distant quasar ever found was detected by the light it gave off only 690 million years after the Big Bang. Of the 83 newfound quasars, the most distant one is 13.05 billion light-years away from us. That means its light started its journey to the telescope lens within the universe’s first billion years. This quasar is tied with an earlier discovery as the second-most distant quasar ever found.

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