(via ign.com) A newly discovered supermassive black hole is the farthest ever found. A team of scientists, led by the Carnegie Observatories’ Eduardo Banados, reported the findings in the journal Nature. The black hole, whose mass is 800 million times greater than that of the Sun, lies in a quasar. Powered by black holes devouring everything around them, quasars are some of the brightest objects in the universe.
Since the black hole is 13 billion light years away, it provides a snapshot of what the earliest universe must’ve been like, only just hundreds of millions of years after the Big Bang, which is 5 percent of the universe’s current age. Banados equates it to seeing a photo of a 50-year-old man when he was 2 1/2 years old.
The quasar is said to be from a time called the Dark Ages. This is when stars and galaxies were first appearing and illuminating the cosmos from their radiation ionizing the surrounding hydrogen gas.
“The newfound quasar is so luminous and evolved that I would be surprised if this was the first quasar ever formed,” Banados said. “The universe is enormous and searching for these very rare objects is like looking for the needle in the haystack.”
While there are bigger black holes around, none of them are as far away as this one. It beats the previous record holder in the ultra-distant category by roughly 60 million years, and Banados believes there are between 20 and 100 more like it waiting to be discovered.