Prehistoric black hole, conceptual image

Prehistoric black hole, conceptual image

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Credit: NASA/JPL-CALTECH/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Prehistoric black hole, conceptual image. Computer artwork of one of the most primitive supermassive black holes (black circle, centre) known. It lies at the core of a young, star-rich galaxy and is one of two dating back to about 13 billion years ago, called J0005-0006 and J0303-0019, that were discovered by astronomers using NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. Gas can be seen swirling around a black hole in what is called an accretion disk. Usually, the accretion disk is surrounded by a dark doughnut-like dusty structure called a dust torus, but this is lacking in these primitive black holes. This illustration also shows how supermassive black holes can distort space and light around them.

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