Space Telescopes Revealed Collapsing Clouds Gave Birth to Monster Black Holes

First Posted: May 27, 2016 04:10 AM EDT

In the heart of every galaxy, including the Milky Way, lies a supermassive black hole, millions of times bigger than the sun, but these monsters started is still a mystery.

One idea is that these black holes started by pulling gas from surrounding areas, and another is that they formed as smaller black holes mixed together. Now, observations from a trio of space telescopes suggest a third mechanism for giving birth to black holes which are the collapse of gas clouds, News Yac reported.

"We found evidence that supermassive black hole seeds can form directly from the collapse of a giant gas cloud, skipping any intermediate steps," astronomer Fabio Pacucci, with the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa, Italy, said in a press release.

"There is a lot of controversy over which path these black holes take," added astronomer Andrea Ferrara, also with SNS. "Our work suggests we are narrowing in on an answer, where the black holes start big and grow at the normal rate, rather than starting small and growing at a very fast rate."

According to Seekers, using computer models and observations made by the Hubble, Chandra X-ray and Spitzer infrared space telescopes, astronomers located two objects that were huge candidates for black hole seeds. Both of which matched the predicted color, as seen by Hubble and Spitzer, as well as the X-ray profile predicted from Chandra.

Measurements show that these black holes may have formed with the universe less than a billion years ago. "These objects were found in the Cosmic Assembly Near-infrared Deep Extragalactic Legacy Survey and the Great Observatories Origins Deep Survey-South surveys. The next steps will involve getting more data on these two intriguing objects as well as extending the analysis to other surveys to look for more direct-collapse black hole candidates," NASA said in a press release.

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