A research group from the U.K. recently discovered five new supermassive black holes which had remained hidden from the eyes of other astronomers due to the thick clouds of gas and dust around them. Yet, the team believes that in the Universe there may be more black holes, millions more.
Supermassive black holes are located at the core of galaxies and act like cosmic vacuum cleaners that absorb enormous amounts of material from the nearby space objects. The black holes’ voracity makes these monster space objects extremely dense. In fact, they are so dense that not even sun light can escape their grip.
Scientists have found supermassive black holes that contain mass equivalent to thousands to billions of suns.
Astronomers were able to detect the five black holes by the radiation they emitted during their feeding process. Each of the newly found black holes is located at the center of five separate galaxies, researchers noted.
The radiation was detected by NASA scientists with help from the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR), a space telescope launched in June 13, 2012, following a 3-month delay. NuSTAR was launched to orbit to study super massive black holes and the remains of star explosions called supernova remnants.
Black holes are also considered supernova remnants, according to one theory. But their origins remain largely unknown. Some scientists claim that in the wake of a supernova tiny black holes emerge with the mass of tens or perhaps hundreds of suns. Later, these black holes grow larger by merging and feeding on the nearby matter. That’s how they turn into supermassive black holes.
NuSTAR is hardwired to sense extreme X-Ray radiation from unbelievably remote space objects. George Lansbury, the lead author of the discovery and researcher at the University of Durham’s Center for Extragalactic Astronomy, explained that his fellow scientists knew for a long time that supermassive black holes often hid behind thick clouds of gas and dust. So there must be many more out there waiting to be discovered.
“Thanks to NuSTAR, for the first time we have been able to clearly see these hidden monsters that are predicted to be there, but have previously been elusive because of their ‘buried’ state,”
Prof. Lansbury added.
He acknowledged that the number of the newly-found supermassive black holes is extremely small compared to the “huge” number of the black holes that may be hidden from their view.
A paper on the findings was published last week in The Astrophysical Journal.
Image Source: Space