The first black holes in the universe were born starving.
A new study found that the earliest black holes lacked nearby matter to gobble up, and so lay relatively stagnant in pockets of emptiness.
The finding, based on the most detailed computer simulations to date, counters earlier ideas that these first black holes accumulated mass quickly and ballooned into the supermassive black holes that lurk at the centers of many galaxies today.
“It has been speculated that these first black holes were seeds and accreted huge amounts of matter,” said the study’s leader Marcelo Alvarez, an astrophysicist at the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology in California. “We’re just finding out that it could be much more complex than that.”