Scientists have discovered the oldest black hole, formed only 470 million years after the Big Bang, reports BTA, citing AP.
The discovery, published Monday in Nature Astronomers, confirms previous theories that supermassive black holes existed at the dawn of the universe. NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope and the Chandra X-ray Observatory teamed up to make the observations.
Considering that the universe is 13.7 billion years old, the age of this black hole amounts to 13.2 billion years.
Even more amazing to scientists is that this black hole is huge – 10 times bigger than the black hole in our Milky Way.
It is estimated to weigh between 10 and 100% of the mass of all the stars in the galaxy in which it is located. This ratio is nowhere near the tiny proportions of black holes in our Milky Way and other nearby galaxies, scientists say.
Recently, British astronomers observed a massive cosmic explosion – caused by the merger of two stars, in which the chemical elements necessary to sustain life were created.
The creation of rare chemical elements has been detected in this second-brightest gamma-ray burst ever observed. It sheds new light on how the heavy elements in the universe are created.
The researchers observed the gamma-ray burst, designated 230307A, at the merger of two neutron stars in a spiral galaxy a billion light-years from Earth.
For the first time, the James Webb Space Telescope has detected a merger between two stars, known as a kilonova. In this energetic event, new atomic nuclei are created in a process known as nucleosynthesis.
The materials that form are some of the heaviest elements in nature, such as gold, platinum and uranium.
The new study, involving researchers from the University of Warwick and the University of Birmingham, has observed evidence for the presence of tellurium, one of the rarest elements on Earth.
Other elements such as iodine and thorium, which are necessary to support life on Earth, are also likely among the materials ejected from the explosion.
Professor Danny Steegs, from the Department of Physics at the University of Warwick, said: “This is an important next step in our understanding of the role that binary neutron star mergers play in filling out the periodic table of elements.”
The explosion was observed using a number of ground-based and space-based telescopes, including NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, and the Swift Observatory.
Dr Ben Gompertz, Associate Professor of Astronomy at the University of Birmingham and co-author of the study, explained: “Gamma-ray bursts are caused by powerful jets traveling at almost the speed of light – in this case they are caused by a collision between two neutron stars. These stars spent several billion years spiraling towards each other before colliding and causing the gamma-ray burst we observed in March of this year.
The merger site is about the length of the Milky Way (about 120,000 light years) outside their home galaxy, meaning they must have been ejected from it together. Colliding neutron stars provide the conditions necessary for the fusion of very heavy elements, and the radioactive glow of these new elements drives the kilonova we found when the explosion died down. Cylons are extremely rare and very difficult objects to observe and study, which is why this discovery is so exciting.”
Flare 230307A lasted for 200 seconds, which means it is categorized as a long-lasting gamma-ray burst. This is unusual because neutron star mergers produce shorter gamma-ray bursts that last less than two seconds.
Now researchers are looking to learn more about how these neutron star mergers work and how they power these huge element-generating explosions.
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