Five supermassive black holes containing “between a million and a billion times more mass than regular stellar black holes,” per Sputnik International, have been located.
British astronomers from Dunham University were able to locate a large population of the hidden supermassive black holes utilizing NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) satellite observatory, according to Astronomy Magazine.
The findings were presented during the Royal Astronomical Society’s National Astronomy Meeting, in Llandudno, Wales, on Monday, per EurekAlert.
“For a long time we have known about supermassive black holes that are not obscured by dust and gas, but we suspected that many more were hidden from our view,” said Lead Scientist George Lansbury from Durham University.
In the above video detailing the finding, Lansbury stated to Sky News, “Now with this new NASA observatory, NuSTAR, it has the unique capability of x-ray vision. It detects high-energy x-rays coming from the black holes, and these penetrate through the cocoons of dust and gas around the black holes, allowing us to clearly see them for the first time.”
The existence of these hidden black holes has long been speculated. Though they are clouded by interstellar dust and gas, nine of these were theorized to exist based on indirect gravitational evidence. NuSTAR was able to locate and confirm the existence of five of these monster black holes, and they are “much more active” than originally speculated.
NuSTAR was launched in 2012 and designed to orbit the Earth and pick up high-energy x-rays. Each of these black holes emits a great deal of radiation as surrounding matter is drawn into the black hole’s event horizon.
A black hole is so-called because once light enters, it can no longer escape, and, therefore, cannot be seen. As illuminated matter encircles the black hole’s corona, light, space, and time are bent, stretched, and blurred.
For instance, Markarian 335 is a previously-named supermassive black hole not obscured by dust and gas. According to an August 2014 article by CNN, NuSTAR observed that Markarian 335’s intensive gravity “created an illuminating action” that NASA likened to “someone shining a flashlight” for astronomers.
As previously reported in the Inquisitr, the black hole named SDSS J010013.021280225.8 was calculated to weigh about 12 billion times the mass of the Earth’s sun.
The Smithsonian detailed that there is one black hole thought to be a phenomenally large, up to 17 billion times the sun’s mass. Astronomers suspect, due to mathematical probability, that there are millions more of these giant objects, possibly at the center of every large galaxy.
“This is about understanding the wider universe in its totality,” commented Robert Massey of the Royal Astronomical Society. “Black holes are incredibly important parts of that. If we didn’t study them, we’d be missing a big link in the evolution of stars, which includes our own sun.”
The findings on these supermassive black holes will appear in detail in The Astrophysical Journal.
[Photo by FAECIASP/NASA/ Conicet of Argentina/Getty Images]