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Very close to the very beginning, scientists think, there were black holes.
These black holes, which astronomers have never directly detected, didn't form in the usual way: the explosive collapse of a big, dying star into its own gravity well. The matter in these black holes, researchers believe, wasn't crushed into a singularity by the last gasps of an old star.
Years - Universe - Stars - Clouds - Matter
Indeed, back then, in the first 1 billion or so years of the universe, there were no old stars. Instead, there were huge clouds of matter, filling space, seeding the earliest galaxies. Some of that matter, researchers believe, clumped together more tightly, though, collapsing into its own gravity well just like old stars later did as the universe aged. Those collapses, researchers believe, seeded supermassive black holes that had no previous life as stars. Astronomers call these singularities "direct collapse black holes" (DCBHs).
But that could change. A new paper from the Georgia Institute of Technology published Sept. 10 in the journal Nature Astronomyproposes that the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), which NASA intends to launch at some point in the next several years, should be sensitive enough to detect a galaxy containing a black hole from this ancient period of the universe's history. And the new study proposes a set of signatures that could be used to identify a DCBH-hosting galaxy.
Telescope - Skies
And that ultrapowerful telescope might not have to search the skies for very long to find one.
To make their prediction, the researchers used a computer model [CK?] to simulate the formation of a DCBH in the early universe. They found that when a DCBH forms, it causes a lot of huge, short-lived, metal-free stars to form around it. So the light coming from its...
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