A Growing Black Hole in the Early Universe

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Produced by the Space Telescope Science Institute’s Office of Public Outreach in collaboration with NASA’s Universe of Learning partners: Caltech/IPAC, Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian, and NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

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  • All images – X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO/Ákos Bogdán; Infrared: NASA/ESA/CSA/STScI; Image Processing: NASA/CXC/SAO/L. Frattare & K. Arcand.

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Photos of a variety of different planets and colorful space phenomena such as galaxies and nebulae. 
Text, News from the Universe. 
November 10, 2023, A growing black hole in the early universe. A photo of an expanse of black space with purple gas and white stars or distant galaxies of different sizes. 
Text, The most distant black hole ever detected in X-ray light supports one theory about how black holes could grow very big very fast in the early universe. The white stars and distant galaxies speckle the purple and black background. A star shines brightly near the right side with six points. 
Text, NASA's Chandra X-Ray Observatory (purple) and James Webb Space Telescope teamed up to find the telltale signature of a growing black hole, just 470 million years after the big bang. Two close-up photos are labeled Chandra and JWST. In Chandra, a circle around a purple splotch is labeled black hole. In JWST, a circle around a small speck is labeled black hole host galaxy. 
Text, Astronomers used Webb to determine the distance and mass of the black hole's host galaxy, named UHZ1. The close-up photos are taken near the bottom middle of the expanse of space depicted. 
Text, Chandra detected intense, superheated, X-ray-emitting gas in the galaxy - a trademark for a growing supermassive black hole. 
Astronomers say that this shows, for the first time, a brief stage where a growing black hole weighs about the same as all the stars and other material in its home galaxy, before the galaxy grows larger and outweighs it. The close-ups become larger. 
The close-ups disappear and we return to the purple gas and white stars or galaxies. Text, This is the best evidence yet to support the idea that some supermassive black holes in the early universe formed directly from the gravitational collapse of massive gas clouds. 
This news was brought to you in part by the Chandra X-Ray Center in Cambridge, MA.