Hidden Black Holes Finally Found

Robert Roy Britt at Space.com:

Hf_quasar_spcbubble_01A host of hidden black holes have been revealed in a narrow region of the sky, confirming astronomers’ suspicions that the universe is loaded with many undetected gravity wells.

Black holes cannot be seen directly, because they trap light and anything else that gets too close. But astronomers infer their presence by noting the behavior of material nearby: gas is superheated and accelerated to a significant fraction of light-speed just before it is consumed.

The activity releases X-rays that escape the black hole’s clutches and reveal its presence.

The most active black holes eat so voraciously that they create a colossal cloud of gas and dust around them, through which astronomers cannot peer. That sometimes prevents observations of the region nearest the black hole, making it impossible to verify what’s actually there.

These hyperactive black holes are called quasars. They can consume the mass of a thousand stars a year and are thought to be precursers to large, normal galaxies. The exist primarily at great distances, seen as they existed when the universe was young.

More here.