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NASA telescope detects 'bonanza' of humongous black holes

NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey telescope has spotted millions of 'supermassive' black holes gorging on matter, says the space agency. 

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This zoomed-in view of a portion of the all-sky survey from WISE shows a collection of quasar candidates.

NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/STScI

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A jackpot of previously unknown black holes across the universe has been discovered by the infrared eyes of a prolific NASA sky-mapping telescope.

The cosmic find comes from data collected by NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey (WISE) telescope, which scanned the entire sky in infrared light from December 2009 to February 2011. The full catalog of observations by WISE during its mission was publicly released in March, and astronomers are still poring through this celestrial trove for discoveries.

"WISE has found a bonanza of black holes in the universe," astronomer Daniel Stern of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif., said during a news briefing today (Aug. 29). WISE turned up about three times as many black holes as have been found by comparable surveys in visible light, offering up a total of 2.5 million new sources across the sky.

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