Weird black holes may hold secrets of the early universe

Friday, June 2, 2023 - 06:42 in Astronomy & Space

Our galaxy’s heart is a gluttonous monster. Like the mythical Kammapa of the Sotho people of southern Africa, the Milky Way’s central, supermassive black hole has swallowed nearly everything around it, growing heftier and heftier the more it eats. And it’s not alone. Black holes weighing as much as thousands, millions or even billions of suns sit at the center of nearly all known massive galaxies. For decades, scientists thought that was the only place they’d find such behemoths, because only massive galaxies had enough material to feed the monsters’ excessive appetites. But beginning about two decades ago, computer simulations of the earliest black holes started turning up oddities — big black holes that weren’t smack-dab where they were expected. These misfits must be nothing more than flukes, many scientists reasoned at the time, dismissing the results without a second thought. But others weren’t so certain the oddballs should be cast off....

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