NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory spacecraft has captured the deepest X-ray image of the sky so far. The image has the highest concentration of supermassive black holes ever seen. It was collected for about 7 million seconds or 11 and a half weeks,
A Closer Look at the Supermassive Black Holes
“With this one amazing picture, we can explore the earliest days of black holes in the Universe and see how they change over billions of years,” explained the team’s leader Niel Brandt, the Verne M. Willaman Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics, and professor of physics at Penn State. They presented their findings at the 229th meeting of the American Astronomical Society. The meeting was in Grapevine, Texas on January 5.
In a press release, the research team says that the supermassive black holes compose around 70 percent of the image. The supermassive black holes are between 100,000 and 10 billion solar masses.
The observation also allowed the research team to detect x-rays from massive galaxies that are located around 12.5 billion light years away from us. The x-ray emissions most likely came from massive black holes. These weigh a few dozen solar masses, within the galaxies.
“By detecting X-rays from such distant galaxies, we’re learning more about the formation and evolution of stellar-mass and supermassive black holes in the early Universe,” said one of the study’s researchers, Fabio Vito, a postdoctoral scholar in astronomy and astrophysics at Penn State. “We’re looking back to times when black holes were in crucial phases of growth, similar to hungry infants and adolescents.”
The team points out that more research is still needed. This would also involve using the Chandra spacecraft as well as other x-ray observatories. They add that other data taken by the James Webb Space Telescope will help solve the mystery of how these supermassive black holes reach huge masses in such a short period of time.