Oldest Black Hole Discovered

November 7, 2023

It’s astounding how this thing actually is sitting in place already with its galaxy so early on in the universe.

Yale University’s Priyamvada Natarajan, who partook in a study published this week that revealed the discovery of the oldest black hole known to humans. Scientists date the universe to be around 13.7 billion years old, and estimate the black hole at 13.2 billion years old.

Black Hole: “A place in space where gravity pulls so much that even light can not get out. The gravity is so strong because matter has been squeezed into a tiny space. This can happen when a star is dying,” as defined by NASA.

Why It Matters: The discovery, drawing on information from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope and Chandra X-Ray Observatory, reveals a black hole that emerged “when the universe was only 3% of its current age,” according to a social media post from NASA’s Chandra X-Ray Observatory. Researchers estimate it weighs “anywhere from 10% to 100% the mass of all the stars in its galaxy” – meaning it weighs significantly more than any black hole in our Milky Way galaxy, The Associated Press reports, also noting that the findings “confirm what until now were theories that supermassive black holes existed at the dawn of the universe.” Understanding this specific black hole and others help scientists in their pursuit of better understanding the universe.

Read More:

Oldest black hole discovered dating back to 470 million years after the Big Bang (The Associated Press)

Oldest black hole found, and it may solve a cosmic mystery (The Washington Post)

by Emily Hooker, based in Texas