Super-massive black holes in the universe vary in mass from about one million to 10 billion times the size of our sun, and they're continuing to grow. Now astronomers from Tel Aviv University say that the era of the "first fast growth" of these phenomena occurred a mere 1.2 billion years ago — only about half of what was previously believed — and that they continue to grow at a very fast rate.

The new research from Prof. Hagai Hetzer and his student Benny Trakhtenbrot of Tel Aviv University is based on observations from some of the largest ground-based telescopes in the world: "Gemini North" in Hawaii and the "Very Large Telescope Array" in Chile. It's the culmination of a seven-year-long project at Tel Aviv University designed to follow the evolution of these black holes; the results will soon be published in the Astrophysical Journal.

Full details at Tel Aviv University.

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