‘Young’ black hole is nearby, NASA says; doorway to a new universe?

Feb. 13, 2013 | 2:30 p.m.
A supernova remnant may contain the most recent black hole formed in the Milky Way galaxy, according to NASA. (X-ray: NASA/CXC/MIT/L.Lopez et al; Infrared: Palomar; Radio: NSF/NRAO/VLA )

A supernova remnant may contain the most recent black hole formed in the Milky Way galaxy, according to NASA. (X-ray: NASA/CXC/MIT/L.Lopez et al; Infrared: Palomar; Radio: NSF/NRAO/VLA )

Asteroid 2012 DA14 is bearing down on Earth, rattling nerves and making sci-fi fans’ eyes light up.  But the cool science news doesn’t stop there. Researchers believe they may have spotted the youngest black hole in the Milky Way galaxy, and — from scientists’ point of view —  it’s not far away.

When it comes to black holes, it can be hard to differentiate the science from the science fiction.  Remember Nikodem Poplawski’s 2010 theory — that our universe is within a black hole — which is within another universe altogether.  That sounds like Disney’s 1979 film “The Black Hole.”

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Stephen Hawking, theoretical physicist and cosmologist, recalls seeing the film in an essay on black holes, saying the hole in the film provides “a passage from one universe to another.”  He goes on to say the wormholes of science fiction provide an interstellar space-travel short-cut, a workaround to the “Einstein speed limit.”

And this fascinating space phenomenon is relatively nearby, just  26,000 light-years away.  So, astronomers plan to study it closely, NASA says.

The space agency, whose Chandra X-Ray Observatory provided data, says not only is the black hole nearby and young,  at just 1,000 years old as seen from Earth, but it also was created in a very rare way.

PHOTOS: Awesome images from space

“It appears its parent star ended its life in a way that most others don’t,” said Laura Lopez in a news release. Lopez led the study at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The supernova explosion that occurred when this star ran out of fuel was “peculiar,” NASA said.  Oddities included the way the star exploded — with “jets shooting away from the star’s poles” — making the supernova elongated and elliptical.

Also surprising was what the supernova failed to leave behind.

There was no neutron star. The collapse of some massive stars leaves this dense, spinning core.  But not this time.  Megan Watzke, press officer at NASA’s Chandra X-Ray Observatory, told the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday that, indeed, it’s that lack of evidence that points to the existence of a black hole.

“In this case … the lack of pulsations from the other possible explanation (a rapidly rotating dense star called a neutron star) add to the evidence that a black hole is there,” Watzke said.  “In other situations, however, astronomers can detect the black hole’s presence by its influence on the material around it.”

The possible black hole and the reason behind it remain something of a mystery.

As Lopez says in a blog post, these “exotic explosions can happen within our own galaxy, and further study … will give great insights into how these awesome events come about.”

The study and results of the Chandra observation on the possible black hole will appear in a paper in Sunday’s Astrophysical Journal.

[For the Record, 7:41 a.m. Feb. 14: An earlier version of this post failed to include the words “as seen from Earth” in describing the age of the supernova and possible black hole.  It’s an essential distinction.  The object is 26,000 light years away, and that means the light traveled that long to get here. However, astronomers keep track of ages of objects based on our vantage point on Earth.]

— Amy Hubbard


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161 Responses to ‘Young’ black hole is nearby, NASA says; doorway to a new universe?

  1. katlinn says:

    Thats so cool!

  2. Edkipjr says:

    I assume that when you say the black hole is 1000 years old. You actually mean that it was observed and documented 1000 years ago. Please correct me if I'm mistaken; since the black hole is 26000 light years away and it was detected 1000 years ago, that would make it 27000 years old, not 1000.

  3. CHUCKIE BABE says:

    the name of 2 pluto moons are hawkins and watzke and nasa. these astronomers make _some large boulders out of minute ant hills they call evidence. they make their suggestions_to sound like FACTS. NOT one of them are able to afford PROOF. THEY ARE DAYDREAMING.

  4. wes seger says:


  5. bigtom says:

    Does it make sense to say a 26,000 light year away black hole is only 1,000 years old? The article should of stated that we are able to study it from a young age, but the black hole itself is more like 27,000 years old, as the light has already traveled for 26.000 years before we were even made aware of it

  6. Rob says:

    There goes the neighborhood!

  7. Thrawn says:

    How can it be 1,000 years old if it is 26,000 light years away? Do they mean 27,000 years old?

  8. funkyonion says:

    We are infinities within infinities. People think life started for them just this once….

    Forever is a long time.

  9. BEN says:

    1000 years old? 26,000 ly away… Let me get out my pencil and paper. I get 27,000 years old!

  10. Whys says:

    Right there! A black hole!
    Oh okay, now I see it.

  11. Nilson says:

    Don’t you think that letting us readers know which supernova remnant your article refers to would have been appropriate?

    All we were hinted about was that it is a 1,000-year old black hole within a equally old remmant. SN1054 in the Crab Nebula, perhaps?

  12. E. A. Bartholomew says:

    So what does a black hole have to do with wormholes, other than sharing the word "hole" in their name? You imply some kind of connection that I've never heard of. Can you explain that?

  13. Paul Vondra says:

    Sounds like this could be the remains of a gamma ray burst in our own galaxy. (The jets plus the black hole.) Gamma ray bursts ("hypernovas," if you will) are to supernovas what the H-bomb is to the A-bomb. Any gamma ray burst in our galaxy would have had some effect on Earth, though the effect would have been far greater if one of the jets had been pointed at us, which doesn't seem to be the case here. GRB jets are collimated to within 1 or 2 degrees, so the chances of one going off in our galaxy AND being aimed at us are thankfully low.

  14. Guillermo Pussetto says:

    "A doorway to a new universe" isa flashy title with no scientific rigor. Not something that I expect from the LA Times.

  15. yash says:

    "The possible black hole and the reason behind it remain something of a mystery."

    At least, there is initial signal; the end of the living of the stars is the small black hole. I like to interpret that as follow. Overheating and over pressure of ordinary matter will change it turning into compressed atom structure matter like black hole.

  16. Justin M. says:

    It's 26,000 light years away, but 1,000 years old from our perspective here on Earth. Sure, that seems to mean it's actually 27,000 years old. But I think it's normal to talk about the characteristics of the black hole as they "appear" to us in our reference time frame, not the reference time frame of the black hole to which we have no access. From our point of view (reference frame), the black hole is 1,000 years old, and 26,000 light years away.

  17. MCHSG says:

    Is it possible to find an object at a distance of 26000 light years away of age 1000 with the help of transmitting light or reflecting light. I think i am crazy if i beleave this stuff. I think there is no limit for this kind of fraud communications to common public.

  18. MCHSG says:


  19. Doug says:

    But if it were 26000 light years away, at the moment we are SEEING IT it is 1000 years old. Correct in saying, currently, provided our time is not warped due to speed or gravity, it is 27000 years old. In reality, if you observe something 26000 light years away, you would theoretically be looking 26000 years in the past. But given the gravitational and time bending properties of black holes, there is no telling what could be happening at the center- Theories suggest that time would approach infinity as the object approaching were pulled into the center of the black hole. Suggesting that the parties accelerating towards the speed of light would have time drastically slowed, that they may actually nearly stop time itself in their reference.

  20. Personally, I think it's perfect clear (and typically expressed) that this black hole is "1,000 years old", and that the age is expressed as relative to the time we have discovered it. So I understood that the black hole is 26,000 light years distant, but the light that is hitting is as at a point where it's only a thousand years old.____Simple. :)

  21. Weirdo says:

    I believe it is 27 light years, not 27,000 light years. You cant say 27,000 light years as something nearby. And a 1000 year old object cannot be seen if it is 27,000 light years away.

  22. Really says:

    Never A Straight Answer

    Stop funding these lying (brookings institute) people who are so worthless to our country that they have began making up dimensions too act like they've done something for thier pay.

    After all, they did in fact, grossly mismanage the worlds wealthiest nations space program to the point of ruin.

    How smart are they ? Tell me again and again and again…

    PCB's, Agent Orange, Asbestos, DDT, Ozone depleting chemicals… All from the "Educated Elite".

    If Scientists were so valuble, why can't you drink water from a river or stream where you live, sometime not even from your own fawcet ? You could before.

  23. Randal Mathews says:

    Science fiction by speculation?

  24. Jack says:

    Blackholes are not holes at all. They are super dense balls of matter that tend to be around the size of a ball point pen ball to golf ball in size, but holding all the matter collapsed from a star, planet, or galaxy. Wormholes are more or less sci fi at this point and considered to be a bridge or tunnel through space.

  25. Satiated says:

    Just because something is 26k light years away doesn’t mean it can’t be 1k old. If you looked at the star in 1013 that’s when we would have seen it die. Granted it died 26k years before we saw it. Same if u saw a 1 year old through a telescope who lives 26k light years away – they were 1 and you see them as a one year old – you are just watching them be 1 26k years after they were 1

  26. jim says:

    ok, i think i have it. the supernova created a black hole and a worm hole, and we're seeing it through the worm hole, soooo,,, the light is only a thousand years old and is twenty six thousand light years away. this is easy.

  27. MattH says:

    It does not make sense that the black hole is 26,000 light years away and only 1,000 years old. If it were really that age, the light would not reach us for another 25,000 years. I like how the article states "(think like a scientist here)", right after providing this misinformation.

  28. david winn says:

    was just outside havin' coffee and star gazin'. came back in and saw this. wow! such a wonder, this art
    museum in the sky.

  29. tqatallah says:

    It is so obvious that blackholes are pinholes to the realm of God and his reality. Science has proved blackhole’s oddness be we still dont believe its spiritual nature. We want to believe what our egos wants, and so far our egos proved destructive. Our spiritual energy will all go through those pinholes and back to where we came from, carrying back our life experiences. I dont have a scientific proof but this is whats written in the divine message which i believe in, the holy Qur’an. My proof is a spiritual satisfaction, and a few other scientifically proven verses describing other aspects of nature. Peace and out

  30. Dr. Bryan Ramirez says:

    Correct me if I'm wrong but I thought light-year is a measure of distance and not of age, so I can't understand why some people say that it should be 27,000 years old. And since black holes do not emit light, how could they have correlated its age from light-year? I think they used a different method in determining the age of the black hole. I'm having a headache right now so forgive me if I'm wrong. Anyway, the implications of this discovery is amazing! I really wish that we will be able to master interstellar and probably inter-dimensional flight in the near future before it's too late.

  31. Diane says:

    I'm impressed with the article but more impressed that the author is responding to the posts! Good Job!

  32. DanM says:

    There is a reason that the idea of black holes being associated with other universes or wormholes is drawn from fiction: it has no basis in actual science. There is no scientific reason to believe such stories.

  33. Zac says:

    Cool my space ship should be ready in 26k -ish years,until then the views from my electron microscope will do. Maybe I will find a black hole in an organism and try and put my pipet through it and see if it dissapears.

  34. Gerald Nordley says:

    On Pluto's unnamed moons, I've written in Aeacus and Minos, two of the the mythological judges of Hades and integral parts of the Hades mythological system, not interlopers.

    A spinning black hole has a "flat" metric at its poles, so something can go through it there without being crushed into a mathematical point. If, where and when that something comes out is a matter of mathematical conjectures, but another place in our universe appears to be a possible solution. Practical space travel enthusiasts may be disappointed, however. Using a wormhole does nothing to change the Lorentz invariant structure of the larger cosmos in which such a wormhole is embedded, and any travel faster than light in that context would still be time travel with all of its grandfather-killing causality problems.

  35. Can I sneak into the parallel universe and get the me without a cold and bring them back :)

  36. David says:

    This article is about an interesting phenomenon but the article itself is trash. Putting "Doorway To A New Universe" in the headline was bad enough but it's so poorly written it seems to imply Stephen Hawking was telling us wormholes exist at the center of black holes and are passageways to another universe. Did I mention trash? Both author and editor should be embarrassed.

  37. Jason says:

    if you think real hard. it took 26,000 years for us to see the image of a 1000 year old black hole…. so it will be 26,000 more years to see what it looks like now.

  38. tONY B says:

    I woke up this morning with a black Hole in my underwear. I looked to my left, and a black hole was SLEEPING next to me. I got into my Black Hole,and drove it to another bLACK hOLE TO WORK FOR THE MAN..

  39. @chuckdude says:

    Hey, cubby, why the chop piece? You start out with a back-handed comment that this news is some sort of geek's wet dream, and then make a reference to some Disney movie without understanding the meaning of what Hawking implied. Nice work! And you wonder why people in this country don't take science seriously.

  40. kafantaris2 says:

    If the indications of the formation of a black hole took 27,000 light years to reach us, then the current events in that black hole will take another 27,000 light years to get here. Adding these two together makes the black hole at least 54,000 years old.

  41. ae em says:

    I thought headlines meant: racial stigmata and limited upward mobility within black youth – my bad

  42. Ted says:

    Ms. Hubbard: May I suggest that in the future you request a technical review of your articles from at least one subject matter … before going to press?

  43. guest says:

    It's beyond our current capabilities to send humans to our nearest planetary neighbor… can we stop the silly talk about using "wormholes" to travel to other universes. What is even meant by that idea? News Flash… "Star Trek" was an ignorant tv program featuring silly melodrama in a space setting. We don't have matter transporters, tractor beams, photon torpedoes, or swaggering ship captains.

  44. Michael says:

    It sounds almost as if you're citing science fiction to imply science fact. Unless I have misunderstood? If you quoted Hawking himself saying that it is the black holes of "science fiction" which act as wormholes, then why would the title of the article imply that there is a "doorway to a new universe" nearby? It feels a little misleading, unless your intention was to amp up excitement about the theoretical possibilities of a black hole. (Which if that's the case, then you deserve credit for trying to get more people interested in science by making it sound more attractive)

  45. Black holes, the contemporary object of threat, found in calculations done by people who believe infinity had something to do with physical things. Infinity is a paradox. Back to the scratchboard boys.

  46. @abelinone says:

    The Milky Way is between 80,000 and 100,000 light years across. So 26,000 light years away is not in any way "nearby".

  47. michael says:

    It is one thousand years old, yes. We don’t say it is 27k years old. We can’t see that.

  48. Buzz_Dengue says:

    … "doorway"…???… uh, right, you go first.

  49. Kevin says:

    It may be 27,000 years Lon NOW, but the images we are seeing of it are from 26,000 years ago when it was only 1,000 years old.

  50. GalacticCannibal says:

    So where does GOD fit into all this black hole stuff. A curious mind wants to know.?

  51. Dave says:

    if it is 26000 light years away, the image we are seeing could be of it when it was 1000 years old.

  52. Didn't Stephen Hawkins change his mind about black holes being a gateway to other universes? I distinctly remember him paying off a wager to another scientists that a black hole is just that – a dead end.

    Did he change his mind again?

  53. Geek says:

    Yes, it currently would be 27000 years old, but what we see is the 1000 year old version. So they can study a 1000 year old black hole.

  54. Jorge says:

    The black hole is 1,000 years old from the light in which we are observing it. Yes, the black hole is actually 27,000 years old, but that's not what we are observing. We are observing a black hole that 1,000 years old, in it's "young" stage.

  55. @Fellstorm says:

    Scientists can't explain how this black hole formed (miracle power), and somehow it's 1000 years old despite being 26,000 lightyears away? Sounds like proof of a young universe to me. Checkmate, atheists.

  56. kfxt says:

    One universe after another? Are you kidding me?

    What sense does "universe" have? Is it bounded, or not? If bounded, we should be thinking about what lies outside the boundary. If not, then we are in the state of the undefinable. You are guilty of finding language that asserts nothing and defines nothing.

    The human mind, which was set up because of the need for languages and other abstractions, is not adequate for dealing with this kind of question. The noun cannot be blamed for the fact that it does not NAME anything. It is typical of a substantive that sometimes we cannot find the object that is purported to exist behind it.

    In short, the human mind, is, like it or not, capable of creating complete nonsense. If we can't utter a complete sentence, with grammar correct and naming those things that can be named, then we are out of business.

  57. Pruce says:

    My gut reaction is to say how can it only be 1000 years old when it's 27000 light years away?

    But then I considered, maybe they didn't detect it with visible light? I'm not sure if they can detect something sooner using radiation or some other method? I personally don't know, but would be interested to know more about the details…

  58. ultraman says:

    "1000 years old as seen from the earth" , as written, is correct. We are seeing what the black hole looked like 26,000 years ago, 1000 years after the black hole was formed.

  59. rranso says:

    What they mean by "young" is that while yes, in real time the black hole is 27,000 years old on Earth we only have visual means to study the black hole. The information being gathered now from telescopes is from the light being emitted that we are receiving from when the black hole was 1,000 years old. In another 26,000 years, the detection of black whole on Earth based on what we can see will be what the black hole actually looks like today. We have no way of knowing what the black hole is doing at this moment since the speed of light is finite.

  60. Bert says:

    I'm not an expert, but as a guess I would think that the object is receding away from us at a high rate of speed. That combined with the fact that space appears to be expanding might explain how it could be only 1000 years old and yet be 26,000 light years away from us. If it was approaching us that would probably be bad but it might save us the trouble of solving our environmental issues.

  61. ABundy says:

    There goes the neighborhood!

  62. steve says:

    For Me, The real question is how do ya fill the dang things.

  63. JVN says:

    Better believe it.

  64. kfxt says:

    One universe after another? Are you kidding me?

  65. Stephen says:

    Worm holes are short cut moves from A to B within your universe, Black holes are tunnels to other Universes. )777(

  66. Cynthia says:

    this is the absolute worst newspaper article i have ever read……shame on you LA Times for posting it. I want the 5 minutes of my life back that it took me to read this crap.

  67. Amazon says:

    oh god! Light years are used to mention the distance. The traveling distance of light in a year is known as light year.

  68. To all those who are confused with the point "26000 light years away" and "1000 years old". Please be informed that "a light year" is not equal to "years as in age". The former being a unit of distance and the later being a unit of age :). I might be 100kms away from an object, yet 3 years old :P.

  69. R.Krishnadas says:

    When you say the black hole is 1000 years old it means it was formed 1000 years back with respect to observer on earth. Black hole is 26000 light years away shows the distance of black hole from observer.

    With respect to an observer near the black hole, black hole is 27000 year old. It is relative to the position of observer.

    To explain it more simply, let as assume we are viewing a star which is one light year away from earth. We are viewing the star based on the light reaching our eye from the star. The light reaching our eye has started their journey one year back from the star and as it takes one year to reach earth. What we are seeing is the event which had taken place one year before with respect to an observer near the star.

    Let us assume the star exploded at certain point of time. The observer on earth will continue to see the star for one more year after the explosion had taken place with respect to an observer near the star.


  70. SpaceFriday says:

    Reblogged this on SpaceFriday and commented:
    Reposting this LA Times blog post because of the conjecture about a potential new universe.

  71. Clement Nokes says:

    There are three known universes. Black holes can form in only one (ours). The image displayed in the article is of an earth-based aurora. This is not a stellar object.

  72. Shannon says:

    If I see a picture of a boy who is three years old that was taken 117 years ago… I cannot say, "Oh that man is 120 years old." Maybe he died at age 43, maybe not. All I can say is how old he is in the picture and how long ago that picture was taken. Therefore, we can say, "As we are currently observing it, the black hole is 1,000 years old and we know it to be 26,000 light years away." But we cannot assume that it is 27,000 years old and we are certainly not observing it at it's 27,000 year old state.

  73. MILO says:


  74. Tim says:

    I agree with Shannon. Since it is 26000 light years away, it will take us 26k years to see it in it's current state. The way it is seen now is how it was 26k years ago, so it could have disappeared any time between then and now, but we can't see that now! So, the distance does have something to do with how old the black hole is because it is AT LEAST 1000 years old, and at most, 26k years old.

  75. JLEB says:

    If blackholes are doorways, then why do we not see evidence of the other side of the door in our universe?

  76. Tiggles says:

    That’s it, all of you back to school.

  77. Ellen Lewis says:

    I’m checking this out: is it right to assume that since this this object was (maybe is also) so relatively close to us (yes, LY is a distance measure), that cosmological redshift is not significant here? Differentiating cosm. redshift from ordinary redshift here, is it right that the former becomes significant for extragalactic measures?

  78. Morphix says:

    I suggest that those interested in a better explanation for this and many other astronomical phenomena visit thunderboltsproject.info.

  79. Robert says:

    i would say it is about 500 million years because earth travels around 30000 mph in our relative time
    so using that time reference for us 26000 light years should be about right

  80. Marty Kay Zee says:

    There is casual ignorance, which may be treated with education. Then there is willful ignorance, in which the subject just won't be bothered. And then there is belligerent ignorance, the practicing know-nothings who are much in evidence on these threads. We have religion to thank for them.

  81. phillip says:

    consider the idea that maybe a black hole bring matter together to create the core for a new planet so it may be born again

  82. cara says:


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