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Hubble telespe disvers clues to how supermassive black holes are 'born' ()

A discovery from the Hubble Space Telescope may have given us our most detailed insight yet into the birth of supermassive black holes. 

The way these black holes, which contain millions more mass than that of our own Sun, grow from 'seeds' has been debated for many years. 

Now, astronomers believe they have finally found clues to solve this mystery. 

Supermassive black holes have existed since the early days of the Universe, appearing less than a billion years after the Big Bang and two theories have sought to explain their formation.

The first assumes the seeds "grow out of black holes with a mass about ten to a hundred times greater than our Sun", before merging with smaller, surrounding black holes.

The second suggests the structures form directly when a huge cloud of gas collapses in on itself, and this latest research appears to support the latter. 

This would explain the speed in which supermassive black holes form, in which they are effectively "jump started" and therefore are able to form much more quickly.

The team used data from the Hubble telescope, the Spitzer Space Telescope and the Nasa Chandra X-ray Observatory, to identify two potential black hole seeds and artificially model their formation.

"There is a lot of controversy over which path these black holes take," said co-author Andrea Ferrara from Scuola Normale Superiore.  

"Our work suggests we are converging on one answer, where black holes start big and grow at the normal rate rather than starting small and growing at a very fast rate." 

Although the research is promising, the team said that "further observations are needed to confirm" the true nature of the black holes. 

"Our work establishes a solid theoretical framework to interpret these data with the aim of finding the first black holes in the Universe," they wrote. 

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