Top 10 Bizarre New Finds About Black Holes

Nothing in space beats the strangeness of a black hole. The most educated scholars struggle to explain why normal physics fails around them or what happens inside these all-consuming monsters.

Every year, the enigmatic phenomenon reveals weird and frightening clues about its true nature. Time reversal, black holes from a dead universe, and the first glimpse of forces stronger than them are just a few of the latest discoveries.

Plenty Of IMBHs

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Midsize black holes are the mysterious middle child of the family. They are neither as small as the abundant stellar-mass black holes nor as big as the supermassive ones. Called IMBHs (intermediate-mass black holes), they are so scarce that some scientists consider them to be missing.

In 2018, their hiding place was revealed. For unknown reasons, IMBHs lurk at the center of small galaxies. Once scientists knew where to look, the rare black holes turned up in swarms.

Usually, a supermassive black hole resides in the middle of a star cluster. The rule weakened as more dwarf galaxies were found swirling around IMBHs. However, with their numbers on the increase, so is the possibility of solving a related mystery.

Scientists still cannot explain how certain supermassive black holes bloomed so shortly after the big bang. Thus far, the information gleaned from IMBHs supports the existing theories about supermassive births—they grow from IMBHs or when giant gas clouds collapse. Although this does not solve the riddle, it counts as confirmation that scientists are heading in the right direction.

Mystery Objects Near Sagittarius A*

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Sagittarius A* is the supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy. In the early 2000s, two mysterious objects were discovered orbiting around it. Called G-class objects, they behaved like gas clouds and were expected to die as they were approaching their closest point to Sagittarius A*. When they endured, the real riddle began.

Gas clouds could not survive a turn so close to a supermassive black hole. In 2018, researchers found three more in close orbit around Sagittarius A*. Picking apart data from the past 12 years could not conclusively identify them as G-class objects, but this is likely the case. They appear puffy like gas but behave like stars with tremendous mass.

This was exactly what scientists thought the first two probably were after they did not die—stars. Stars in orbit may sound strange, but it gets more unusual.

Once, they were binary (two stars that circled each other). However, the gravity of Sagittarius A* caused them to merge violently and take on a swollen appearance, which fooled scientists into “seeing” gas clouds. Nothing is settled, though. Not all the objects have the same orbit, and this suggests different creation stories.

Oldest Black Hole

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The discovery of the most ancient black hole in the universe is not just about age. This granddad could solve long-standing mysteries about the epoch when stars switched on for the first time.

Found in 2017, the supermassive entity formed 690 million years after the big bang. When the cosmos was a mere 5 percent of its present age, the black hole was already 800 million times the mass of the Sun.

ULAS J1342+0928 is about 13.1 billion light-years from Earth and was formed during the early years of the cosmos. Called “the epoch of reionization,” this specific period occurred when the first stars evolved from ions and gravity. The true cause behind the reionization remains unsolved, though black holes remain suspect.

In addition, nobody can explain how they could become so massive in the early universe. ULAS J1342+0928 might throw light on these issues, but more black holes from this epoch are needed to get real answers. Unfortunately, black holes from that time are exceedingly rare.

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