Astronomers claim to have discovered the oldest black hole yet.
It formed 470 million years after the Big Bang and was detected in X-rays using NASA telescopes.
There is “strong evidence” that it was born “massive” – and would weigh between 10% and 100% of the mass of all the stars in its galaxy.
NASA said the black hole was in an early stage of growth never before observed, which could explain the formation of some of the first supermassive black holes in the universe.
The results confirm what were previously theories that supermassive black holes existed at the dawn of the universe.
Scientists believe that the universe began 13.7 billion years ago, which means the estimated age of the black hole is 13.2 billion years.
The black hole, found in a galaxy called UHZ1, is 10 times larger than that in our own Milky Way, which measures 24.6 million kilometers across.
What is a black hole?
Black holes are regions of space where a huge amount of mass is packed into a tiny volume.
This creates a gravitational pull so strong that even light cannot escape.
NASA said: “This discovery is important for understanding how some supermassive black holes can reach colossal masses shortly after the Big Bang.
“Do they form directly from the collapse of huge gas clouds, creating black holes weighing about 10,000 to 100,000 Suns? Or do they come from the explosions of the first stars that create black holes weighing only about 10 to 100 Suns?
Explaining the differentiations between black holes, Nature Astronomy paper co-author Andy Goulding said: “There are physical limits to how quickly black holes can grow once formed, but those that are born more massive have a head start. .
“It’s like planting a sapling, which takes less time to grow into a full-sized tree than if you started with just a seed.”
Priyamvada Natarajan, who participated in the study published in Nature Astronomy, said: “It’s just very early in the universe to be such a monster.”
She also said: “We believe this is the first detection of a ‘huge black hole’ and the best evidence yet obtained that some black holes form from enormous clouds gas.
“For the first time, we are seeing a brief stage in which a supermassive black hole weighs about as much as the stars in its galaxy, before falling behind.”
Researchers used a combination of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope and NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory to detect the black hole.