And scientists think they'll find some even older, too.
Because it looks so deeply into space, the James Webb Space Telescope is also looking way back in time — and it recently spotted what scientists believe is the oldest known black hole in the universe.
As Live Science notes, the Webb telescope's uber-powerful sensors allowed it to spot the supermassive black hole, which is 10 million times more massive than the Sun and sat at the center of a galaxy some 570 million years after the universe began.
To put that into perspective, NASA notes that current estimates put the universe at about 13.7 billion years old, give or take about 200 million. So it's an old guy, even by universe standards.
In an interview with Live Science, University of Texas at Austinastrophysicist Rebecca Larson, who led the recent research into the very ancient black hole, noted that while this is the oldest discovered thus far, "there should be many [more] of them," some of which could be even older.
"We do expect that this black hole didn't just form [recently], so there should be more that are younger and existed earlier on in the universe," said Larson, a PhD candidate at the University of Texas at Austin. "We're just starting to be able to study this time in cosmic history this way with the JWST, and I'm excited for us to find more of them."
Because light travels through space at a fixed speed, the deeper our telescopes peer out into the unknown, the further back in time they're seeing. To see black holes, and especially old ones, scientists need special equipment — like the JWST's Near Infrared Camera and its Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI).
In their paper, which has been published to a pre-print server but hasn't yet been peer-reviewed, Larson and her team noted that they found the ancient black hole as part of their research for Cosmic Evolution Early Release Science (CEERS) survey, which uses the JWST to look back at the early universe and see what they find.
Clearly, the survey is going well if they're finding black holes this old — and who knows what they'll discover next.
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