contents
Your weekly briefing on the state of 
humanity
SEE ALL ISSUES
EDITOR'S LETTER
The starting gun
NEWS FEATURE 1
Russia’s youth awakens
NEWS FEATURE 2
Britain steps into the Brexit void
DIGEST AMERICAS
Trumpcare falls victim to Republican civil war
DIGEST AMERICAS
How a Colombian town defied one of the world’s largest mining corporations
DIGEST AMERICAS
One of Latin America’s longest-running diplomatic disputes heats up again
DIGEST EUROPE
Saarland punctures the Schulz bubble
DIGEST ASIA-PACIFIC
Commerce and combat, China’s twin levers in the Pacific
DIGEST ASIA-PACIFIC
Beijing’s shadow continues to loom over Hong Kong
DIGEST AFRICA
Bulldozing dissent in Tanzania
DIGEST AFRICA
A bloody week in the Democratic Republic of Congo
DIGEST MIDDLE EAST
Buried under the rubble: Civilian casualties spike in Mosul
DIGEST MIDDLE EAST
Two years of war have wrecked Yemen, but no end is in sight
THE PICTURE
One last time, Wimbledon goes to the dogs
GOOD NEWS
Facial recognition software improves the diagnosis of rare genetic disease
New technology allows paralysed man to use his hand again
THE  INFOGRAPHIC
Gaming for living
IN SCIENCE
‘World-first’ procedure lets a paralysed man use his hand
IN MEDICINE
How forcing defunct cells to self-destruct could reverse signs of ageing
IN TECHNOLOGY
Solar shield, the controversial new solution to climate change

Supermassive black holes have a super-mysterious origin

Space Exploration
See 71 more
A supergiant galaxy named M87 with a supermassive black hole at its core .
NASA/CXC/SAO/W Forman et al
A supergiant galaxy named M87 with a supermassive black hole at its core .
R esearch published this week brings scientists one step closer to understanding the origins of supermassive black holes that formed in the very earliest years of the universe.
Black holes generally take millions of years to form, but supermassive black holes existed only 800,000 years after the Big Bang. The question as to why these supermassive black holes were able to grow exponentially in such a short timeframe has intrigued scientists for over a decade.
According to Zoltan Haiman, co-author of the study and astronomy professor at Columbia University, “the collapse of the galaxy and the formation of a million-solar-mass black hole takes 100,000 years – a blip in cosmic time… [but] a few hundred million years later, it has grown into a billion-solar-mass supermassive black hole. This is much faster than we expected.”
Professor Peter Johansson from the University of Helsinki developed a simulation model of supermassive black holes that has shed light on these giant ancient voids. The model, detailed in the Nature Astronomy Associate, showed that if a neighbouring galaxy zaps the galaxy hosting the black hole with an intense burst of ultraviolet radiation, then black holes can balloon to supermassive sizes.
Supermassive black holes are the largest type of black hole, and are found at the centre of almost all currently known massive galaxies. Black holes generally weigh the equivalent of between five and twenty suns, whereas supermassive black holes are capable of having a solar mass roughly one billion times that of the sun.
Alastair McCready
The World Weekly
16 March 2017 - last edited 16 March 2017