Scientists Discover Oldest Black Hole Using Telescopes on Mauna Kea

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Scientists have discovered one of the oldest objects in the universe.

It’s what they call a black hole. They found it using two telescopes on Mauna Kea.

The light detected in Hawaii left the black hole 13 billion years ago, says Gemini Observatory scientist Paul Hirst.

He says the discovery provides information about the early universe, even back to its creation, the so-called “big bang.”

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Hirst says the discovery was a team effort. First, a British telescope on Mauna Kea detected something promising. The data was then passed along to a team using the Gemini North telescope, its neighbor on Mauna Kea.

Getting just two hours of “telescope time” on Gemini North to confirm the discovery was an undertaking. Hirst says “telescope time” is competitive and scientists must write a proposal about why they should be allotted time.

When the team got its two hours – one night several months ago – the significance of the data coming in was immediately apparent to astronomers on night watch at the telescope.

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The discovery by 17 black hole researchers was published Thursday in the science journal Nature.

(Aileen Humphreys / HPR News)