New Delhi, Dec 7: Astronomers have found the oldest supermassive black hole ever discovered. A study reveals that it grew to 800 million times the mass of the Sun when the Universe was just five per cent of its current age.

This giant black hole was formed just 690 million years after the Big Bang. One day it could help throw light on a number of cosmic mysteries which include how the universe got cleared of the murky fog that once filled the entire cosmos and how black holes could have reached gargantuan sizes quickly after the Big Bang.

These massive black holes with masses larger than of the Sun are thought to lurk in most galaxies. Previous studies have shown that these giants release remarkably large amounts of light when they cut up stars and devour matter. They are known to be the driving force behind quasars which are one of the brightest objects in the Universe.

Quasars could be detected from the farthest corners of the world as they are the most distant objects known. The more distant a quasar is, the more time its light takes to reach the Earth. The earliest known quasar is located 13.04 billion light years from Earth and existed about 750 million years after the Big Bang.

“The most distant quasars can provide key insights to outstanding questions in astrophysics,” quoted the study lead author Eduardo Bañados, an astrophysicist at the Carnegie Institution for Science as saying.

It has been challenging for the scientists to explain how black holes gobbled up enough matter to reach supermassive sizes early in the history. For the purpose of study of the effects these giant black holes have on the rest of the cosmos, researchers want to look at as many early supermassive black holes as possible.