According to a study recently presented at the National Astronomy Meeting of the Royal Astronomical Society , the universe may hide a large population of supermassive black holes . This new data has been offered thanks to the contribution of NASA’s nuclear spectroscopic radio telescope, better known as NuSTAR.
NuSTAR enabled an international team of astronomers, led by Durham University (UK), to detect high-energy X-rays from several supermassive black holes that had not been observed due to the dense presence of surrounding gas and dust.
These high-energy X-rays (much more penetrating than low-energy ones) revealed up to five black holes much brighter and more active than previously thought , as they rapidly devoured surrounding matter and emitted large amounts of radiation.
“We have long known about supermassive black holes that are not obscured by dust and gas, but we suspected that many more were hidden from our point of view . Thanks to NuSTAR, for the first time we have been able to clearly see these hidden monsters that are predicted to be there, but have previously been difficult to reach due to their status. Although we have only detected five of these hidden supermassive black holes, when we extrapolate the results across the entire Universe then the predicted numbers will be enormous ”, explains George Lansbury, leader of the study.
The study has been published in The Astrophysical Journal .