Found the oldest supermassive black hole

by Edgar Hayes December 8, 2017, 1:33
Found the oldest supermassive black hole

Professor Robert Simcoe of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology said that this object provides us with the measurement of the time at which the universe first became illuminated with starlight. Quasar light can be decoded to yield information about the hydrogen atoms the light has encountered along its billion-light-year-journey. In black holes, gravity has such a strong pull that not even light can escape.

Quasars, energized by gases spiraling at high speeds into an enormous black hole, are known to inhabit the center of certain galaxies, sometimes outshining all the stars in those galaxies.

Throughout the time of this newest quasar, the universe was arising from the Dark Ages.

The discovery was found by scouring the new generation of wide-area, sensitive surveys astronomers are doing using NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer in orbit and ground-based telescopes in Chile and Hawaii, Stern said.

Quasars are incredibly bright objects deep in the cosmos, powered by black holes devouring everything around them. The more distant a quasar is, the more time its light takes to reach the Earth.

The unexpected discovery relied on data collected from observatories around the world.

Supermassive black holes are thought to exist at the centre of almost every galaxy in the universe.

"This black hole grew far larger than we expected in only 690 million years after the Big Bang, which challenges our theories about how black holes form", said study co-author Daniel Stern of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Its black hole was even larger at 2 billion solar masses. Its very existence then challenges current notions about the formation and growth of such objects, they said. For the goal 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. In an email to MACH, she said she and the others have argued that, rather than being only about 100 to 1,000 times as massive as the sun, some black hole seeds must have been 10,000 to 100,000 times more massive.

It is the most distant black hole ever seen by scientists.

"I don't think 10 or 15 years ago anybody would expect there to be such a massive black hole that early in the universe", Geballe said. As more stars turned on throughout the universe, their photons reacted with neutral hydrogen, ionizing the gas and setting off what's known as the epoch of re-ionization.

Bram Venemans says: "Models of galaxy evolution will need to be able to explain how a galaxy could form the stars needed to produce the observed amounts of dust and heavier chemical elements in such a comparatively short time". Follow-up observations, as well as a search for similar quasars, are on track to put our picture of early cosmic history onto a solid footing. That's far bigger than any we know today.


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