Astronomers from American space agency NASA have discovered evidence for the farthest “cloaked” black hole found so far. The discovery was made by the Chandra X-ray Observatory. The astronomers have claimed the clocked black hole at only 6 per cent of the current age of the universe.
NASA says that this is the first indication of a black hole hidden by gas at such an early time in the history of the cosmos. Supermassive black holes are often millions to billions of times more massive than our Sun and typically grow by pulling in material from a disk of surrounding matter.
Based on current theories, a dense cloud of gas feeds material into the disk surrounding a supermassive black hole during its period of early growth. The rapid growth generates large amounts of radiation in a very small region around the black hole. Scientists call this extremely bright, compact source a “quasar.”
Scientists say it’s extremely difficult to find out quasars in the cloaked stage because so much of their radiation is absorbed and cannot be detected by current instruments. The new finding came from observations of a quasar called PSO167-13, which was first discovered by Pan-STARRS, an optical-light telescope in Hawaii. The team used Chandra to observe PSO167-13 and found that only three X-ray light photons were detected from PSO167-13 after 16 hours of observation.
Evidence of a gas-cloud “cloaked” black hole in the early universe has been discovered using @ChandraXRay observatory. At ~6% of the universe’s current age, it’s the 1st indication of a gas-hidden black hole at such an early time in the cosmos. Learn more: https://t.co/MII4Tv7Fmm pic.twitter.com/q5vKrAlzES
— NASA (@NASA) August 9, 2019
The team says low-energy X-rays are more easily absorbed than higher energy ones. They believe that there has been a large and rapid increase in the cloaking of the quasar during the three years between when the optical and the X-ray observations were made.