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Did black holes form immediately after the Big Bang?


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History of the Universe with primordial black holes

How did supermassive black holes form? What is dark matter? In an alternative model for how the Universe came to be, as compared to the ‘textbook’ history of the Universe, a team of astronomers propose that both of these cosmic mysteries could be explained by so-called ‘primordial black holes’.

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      4 Min Read NASA’s Hubble Finds Strong Evidence for Intermediate-Mass Black Hole in Omega Centauri
      This NASA Hubble Space Telescope image features the globular star cluster, Omega Centauri. Credits:
      ESA/Hubble, NASA, Maximilian Häberle (MPIA) Most known black holes are either extremely massive, like the supermassive black holes that lie at the cores of large galaxies, or relatively lightweight, with a mass of under 100 times that of the Sun. Intermediate-mass black holes (IMBHs) are scarce, however, and are considered rare “missing links” in black hole evolution.
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      Omega Centauri is about 10 times as massive as other big globular clusters – almost as massive as a small galaxy – and consists of roughly 10 million stars that are gravitationally bound. ESA/Hubble, NASA, Maximilian Häberle (MPIA)
      Download this image

      These stars provide new compelling evidence for the presence of the gravitational pull from an intermediate-mass black hole tugging on them. Only a few other IMBH candidates have been found to date.
      Omega Centauri consists of roughly 10 million stars that are gravitationally bound. The cluster is about 10 times as massive as other big globular clusters — almost as massive as a small galaxy.
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      This image shows the central region of the Omega Centauri globular cluster, where NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope found strong evidence for an intermediate-mass black hole candidate. ESA/Hubble, NASA, Maximilian Häberle (MPIA)
      Download this image

      “We discovered seven stars that should not be there,” explained Maximilian Häberle of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Germany, who led this investigation. “They are moving so fast that they would escape the cluster and never come back. The most likely explanation is that a very massive object is gravitationally pulling on these stars and keeping them close to the center. The only object that can be so massive is a black hole, with a mass at least 8,200 times that of our Sun.”
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      Download this image

      “This discovery is the most direct evidence so far of an IMBH in Omega Centauri,” added team lead Nadine Neumayer of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Germany, who initiated the study, together with Anil Seth from the University of Utah, Salt Lake City. “This is exciting because there are only very few other black holes known with a similar mass. The black hole in Omega Centauri may be the best example of an IMBH in our cosmic neighborhood.”
      If confirmed, at a distance of 17,700 light-years the candidate black hole resides closer to Earth than the 4.3-million-solar-mass black hole in the center of the Milky Way, located 26,000 light-years away.
      Omega Centauri is visible from Earth with the naked eye and is one of the favorite celestial objects for stargazers living in the southern hemisphere. Located just above the plane of the Milky Way, the cluster appears almost as large as the full Moon when seen from a dark rural area. It was first listed in Ptolemy’s catalog nearly 2,000 years ago as a single star. Edmond Halley reported it as a nebula in 1677. In the 1830s the English astronomer John Herschel was the first to recognize it as a globular cluster.
      The discovery paper led by Häberle et al. is published online today in the journal Nature.
      Scientists think a massive object is gravitationally pulling on the stars within Omega Centauri, keeping them close to its center. Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Lead Producer: Paul Morris
      Download this video

      The Hubble Space Telescope has been operating for over three decades and continues to make ground-breaking discoveries that shape our fundamental understanding of the universe. Hubble is a project of international cooperation between NASA and ESA (European Space Agency). NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, manages the telescope and mission operations. Lockheed Martin Space, based in Denver, Colorado, also supports mission operations at Goddard. The Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland, which is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, conducts Hubble science operations for NASA.
      Facebook logo @NASAHubble @NASAHubble Instagram logo @NASAHubble Media Contacts:
      Claire Andreoli
      NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD
      claire.andreoli@nasa.gov
      Ray Villard
      Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, MD
      Bethany Downer
      ESA/Hubble.org
      Science Contact:
      Maximilian Häberle
      Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Heidelberg, Germany
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