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Black Hole From the Beginning of Time Has Galaxies Caught in Its ‘Spider Web’

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Artist’s impression of the ancient web-like structure, featuring a central supermassive black hole, copious amounts of gas, and at least six primordial galaxies.

Artist’s impression of the ancient web-like structure, featuring a central supermassive black hole, copious amounts of gas, and at least six primordial galaxies.
Image: ESO

A remote structure consisting of a supermassive black hole, several primordial galaxies, and copious amounts of gas finally explains how some of the earliest black holes were able to grow so quickly.

The deeper we look into space, the further we look back into time. In this case, astronomers have caught a glimpse of the universe when it was just a toddler—a mere 900 million years after the Big Bang. Using a batch of powerful telescopes, and after a decade’s worth of astronomical observations, an international team of scientists has confirmed the presence of multiple primordial galaxies caught under the influence of an unusually large and bright supermassive black hole, the light from which took 12.9 billion years to reach Earth.

“This is the first spectroscopic identification of a galaxy overdensity around a supermassive black hole in the first billion years of the Universe,” wrote the researchers in their study, published today in Astronomy & Astrophysics. The “absence of earlier detections of such systems is likely due to observational limitations,” they added.

Indeed, astronomers have never seen this sort of thing before, but it’s not entirely unexpected, as the astral arrangement is helping to explain the early appearance of supermassive black holes. As the new research suggests, these web-like structures provided a gas-filled environment in which the first black holes were able to feed and grow.

“The galaxies stand and grow where the filaments cross, and streams of gas—available to fuel both the galaxies and the central supermassive black hole—can flow along the filaments,” explained Marco Mignoli, the lead author of the study and an astronomer at the National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF)

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Very Large Telescope spots galaxies trapped in the web of a supermassive black hole

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ESO telescope spots galaxies trapped in the web of a supermassive black hole
With the help of ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT), astronomers have found six galaxies lying around a supermassive black hole, the first time such a close grouping has been seen within the first billion years of the Universe. This artist’s impression shows the central black hole and the galaxies trapped in its gas web. The black hole, which together with the disc around it is known as quasar SDSS J103027.09+052455.0, shines brightly as it engulfs matter around it. Credit: ESO/L. Calçada

With the help of ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT), astronomers have found six galaxies lying around a supermassive black hole when the Universe was less than a billion years old. This is the first time such a close grouping has been seen so soon after the Big Bang and the finding helps us better understand how supermassive black holes, one of which exists at the centre of our Milky Way, formed and grew to their enormous sizes so quickly. It supports the theory that black holes can grow rapidly within large, web-like structures which contain plenty of gas to fuel them.


“This research was mainly driven by the desire to understand some of the most challenging astronomical objects—supermassive black holes in the early Universe. These are extreme systems and to date we have had no good explanation for their existence,” said Marco Mignoli, an astronomer at the National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF) in Bologna, Italy, and lead author of the new research published today in Astronomy & Astrophysics.

The new observations with ESO’s VLT revealed several galaxies surrounding a supermassive black hole, all lying in a cosmic “spider’s web” of gas extending to over 300 times the size of the Milky Way. “The cosmic web filaments are like spider’s web threads,” explains Mignoli. “The galaxies stand and grow

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This ‘Hacker University’ Offers Dark Web Cybercrime Degrees For $125

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A newly published report into the new economy of the dark web from cybersecurity-as-a-service specialist Armor’s Threat Resistance Unit (TRU), contains much of what you might expect. The relatively cheap trade-in loan applications, business ‘fullz’ comprising a complete business attack dossier, and even SMS text bombing rental services. One discovery, however, stood out from the others as far as this somewhat jaded cyber-writer is concerned: a hacker university selling cybercrime courses to dark web degree students.

The people behind HackTown, the hacker university in question, describe it as somewhere designed to teach people how to become professional cybercriminals. The welcome page states that every course is geared towards “hacking for profit and committing fraud,” aiming at those with little or no coding experience. “By taking the courses offered,” the HackTown operators say, “you will gain the knowledge and skills needed to hack an individual or company successfully.”

Using a handful of free courses to tempt the would-be cybercrime mastermind, HackTown has an enrollment fee of $125 (£97), opening the doors to all other courses. The free courses themselves cover everything from operational security to network attacks, Wi-Fi hacking and carding. The latter being the trade in stolen credit and debit cards, along with the theft of this data and money laundering aspects for good measure. Once enrolled, HackTown offers courses in accessing router admin panels, discovering targets inside a compromised network, brute force attacks, man-in-the-middle attacks and so on.

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Delving a little deeper, the Armor TRU researchers found that this hacker university claims to provide all the tools required to “fast track your cybercriminal hacker career,” as well as “excellent