Uni­verse hides mil­lions of black holes

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS -

FIVE pre­vi­ously hid­den mon­ster black holes have been un­cov­ered by astronomers, lead­ing to sug­ges­tions there may be mil­lions more “su­per­mas­sive” beasts that ab­sorb ev­ery­thing in their path.

Su­per­mas­sive black holes are pow­er­ful cos­mic “drains” that suck ma­te­rial into a point of in­fi­nite den­sity, formed from the com­pressed mass of up to bil­lions of suns.

Sci­en­tists said the five black holes had been hid­den be­hind dust and gas clouds. “For a long time we’ve known about su­per­mas­sive black holes that are not ob­scured ... by dust and gas, but we sus­pected many more were hid­den from view,” said lead sci­en­tist Ge­orge Lans­bury, from the Cen­tre for Ex­tra­galac­tic As­tron­omy at Durham Univer­sity.

“Although we have only de­tected five, when we ex­trap­o­late our re­sults across the uni­verse, the pre­dicted num­bers are huge.’’

High en­ergy X- rays emit­ted from around the newly iden­ti­fied black holes re­vealed their pres­ence at the cen­tre of five gal­ax­ies. They were de­tected by NASA’s Nu­clear Spec­tro­scopic Tele­scope Ar­ray or­bit­ing ob­ser­va­tory, launched in 2012.

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