London, Dec 20 (ANI): A team of scientists has shown that swarms of tiny black holes formed in the big bang may have killed off the Universe's first stars by devouring them from within.
Some physicists speculate that minuscule black holes may have been forged in the very dense soup of matter and radiation that prevailed in the first moments of the universe's existence.
If so, these might account for at least some of the invisible dark matter that pervades the universe.
Now, according to a report in New Scientist, Cosimo Bambi of the University of Tokyo in Japan and colleagues have shown that these black holes could also have destroyed the universe's first stars by eating them from the inside out.
The first stars are thought to have formed around 200 million years after the big bang, in the centres of the universe's densest dark matter clumps.
Stars would have been most likely to ignite there because the dark matter's gravity would have pulled in the gas necessary for them to form.
Bambi's team calculated what would happen if the dark matter was composed of microscopic primordial black holes.
They assumed that each black hole would have had about the mass of the dwarf planet Ceres.
Observations have ruled out much heavier ones as dark matter candidates, while much lighter ones would have quickly evaporated away via quantum effects.
A star forming in the centre of a dense clump of such dark matter would contain about 1 million of these black holes mixed in with its ordinary matter, the team calculates.
Their great density would quickly make the holes sink into the star's core and merge.
The resulting larger black hole would consume the star in less than a million years, gaining between 10 and 1000 times the mass of the sun, according to the team.
Once reaching this size, such black holes could grow even more quickly by sucking in surrounding gas, perhaps turning into the behemoths found at the centres of galaxies, with billions of times the mass of the sun.
According to the research, the black holes would sink to the core and merge, before consuming the star in less than a million years. (ANI)