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Posted 23 March 2003 - 01:13 PM
Found little more but not much.....
ASTRONOMERS have weighed the most distant black hole known - 13 billion light years away.
Measurements of infrared light reveal that the black hole has a mass equivalent to three billion suns.
Canadian and UK astronomers calculate it is situated in a quasar, a highly energetic galaxy with a black hole at its core.
Quasars are exceptionally luminous galaxies, pouring out energy as matter is pulled towards the black holes at their centres. Because of their extreme brightness, they are visible over very great distances.
Team leader Dr Chris Willott, from the Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics in Victoria, Canada, said: "We're seeing this quasar as it looked when its light was emitted 13 billion years ago, back when the universe was only 6% of its current age."
The quasar was observed using the United Kingdom Infrared Telescope (UKIRT) in Hawaii. Its light was examined for Mgll ions - electrically charged atoms of magnesium that form part of the gas surrounding a black hole.
By looking at the MgII signature scientists can tell how fast the material is moving, and thereby work out the black hole's mass. In this case the black hole had a mass three billion times that of the sun.
The hole is swallowing matter at the maximum rate physically possible, known as the Eddington Limit. The findings of the study are published in online edition of the Astrophysical Journal Letters.
Dr Ross McLure, from the Institute for Astronomy in Edinburgh, said: "This quasar pinpoints the first massive structures to have formed in the universe.
"It confirms predictions that such huge black holes do exist so early in the universe, but they are rare. They are also surrounded by a reservoir of fuel which allows them to accrete material right up to the Eddington Limit."
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