Giant Black Hole Discovered At Centre Of Cosmic ‘Spider’s Web’


Astronomers have discovered six galaxies ensnared in the cosmic “spider’s web” of a supermassive black hole soon after the Big Bang, according to research published Thursday that could help explain the development of these enigmatic monsters.

Black holes that emerged early in the history of the Universe are thought to have formed from the collapse of the first stars, but astronomers have puzzled over how they expanded into giants.

The newly discovered black hole — which dates from when the Universe was not even a billion years old — weighs in at one billion times the mass of our Sun and was spotted by the European Southern Observatory (ESO).

Scientists said the finding helps provide an explanation for how supermassive black holes such as the one at the centre of our Milky Way may have developed.

This is because astronomers believe the filaments trapping the cluster of galaxies are carrying enough gas to “feed” the black hole, enabling it to grow.

“The cosmic web filaments are like spider’s web threads,” said Marco Mignoli, an astronomer at the National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF) in Bologna who led the research, which was published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

“The galaxies stand and grow where the filaments cross, and streams of gas — available to fuel both the galaxies and the central supermassive black hole — can flow along the filaments.”

Mignoli said that until now there had been “no good explanation” for the existence of such huge early black holes.

The entire web is over 300 times the size of the Milky Way The entire web is over 300 times the size of the Milky Way Photo: European Southern Observatory / L. CALCADA

Researchers said the web structure may have formed with the help of dark matter — thought to attract huge amounts of gas in the early Universe.

“Our finding lends support to

Astronomers discover supermassive black hole caught in a cosmic ‘spider’s web’


The bright galaxies are trapped in a cosmic web of gas that surrounds the quasar  SDSS J103027.09+052455.0

ESO/L. Calçada

The first billion years of the universe was about as chaotic as Tuesday’s first presidential debate. Galaxies were forming, gas was flowing… It was a real time. While we won’t want to look back on Tuesday too often, we do like to look back in time. And, in a cosmic sense, Earth is perfectly positioned to do so. Because of how long it takes light to travel across the universe, our telescopes can pick up the faint signals of what life was like in the universe’s very early days. 

On Thursday, astronomers announced the discovery of a massive, intriguing structure from when the universe was just 900 million years old. The structure, about 300 times the size of the Milky Way, contains a supermassive black hole that has ensnared six nearby galaxies in a cosmic “spider’s web” of gas. It’s shedding new light on how these monstrous beasts of the early universe can grow so rapidly.

In a new study, published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics on Thursday, an international collaboration of astronomers detail the environment surrounding the quasar “SDSS J1030+0524” (J1030, for short). Quasars are incredibly bright sources of light in the sky and contain a supermassive black hole at their center surrounded by a huge disk of gas known as an “accretion disk.” 

Utilizing the European Southern Observatory’s (ESO’s) Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile and telescopes in the US, astronomers examined J1030, which resides in a deep, dark corner of space. The supermassive black hole, which has one billion times more mass than our sun, is huge — and that’s unusual