Mysterious black hole discovered at the dawn of the universe

Mysterious black hole discovered at the dawn of the universe

Mysterious black hole discovered at the dawn of the universe

Artist's conceptions of the most-distant supermassive black hole ever discovered, which is part of a quasar from just 690 million years after the Big Bang.

The light from this quasar was emitted 690 million years after the Big Bang, relatively close to the beginning of everything.

It's a truly gargantuan black hole, some 800 million times the mass of our sun.

"Quasars are among the brightest and most-distant known celestial objects and are crucial to understanding the early universe", said Bram Venemans from the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Germany in a statement. 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.

A team led by Carnegie Observatories' Eduardo Banados published the discovery Wednesday in the journal Nature.

The supermassive black hole emerged when the universe was still in its infancy, and it took light carrying its image 13 billion years to reach us.

Schematic representation at top of page of the look back into history that is possible by the discovery of the most distant quasar yet known. And it is so far away that we are seeing something that formed when the universe was only five per cent of its current age - something that scientists say shouldn't be able to happen. This black hole was seen devouring material at the center of a galaxy. Scientists have now found a super-sized black hole.

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Astrophysicists suggest that the holes were formed at the very moment when the universe expanded a fundamental shift - moving from an opaque environment, which was dominated by neutral hydrogen, the one in which began to appear the first stars. "But it's pretty hard to get that kind of a mass that early in the universe".

Reionization, black hole evolution, galaxy evolution - even with these first observations, the newly discovered quasar has given astronomers key information about cosmic history.

Before, scientists thought that if there were black holes that formed soon after the Big Bang, there would need to be certain conditions which would allow the supermassive black hole to be born.

Robert Simcoe who is a study author of MIT, said "this is the only object we have observed from this era".

"Something is causing gas within the quasar to move around at very high speed, and the only phenomenon we know that achieves such speeds is orbit around a supermassive black hole", Simcoe says.

The distance to the quasar was about 13 billion years. As the universe expanded in size, those particles cooled down, and as they did they formed into a neutral hydrogen gas during which it was completely dark. Eventually, gravity condensed matter into the first stars and galaxies, which in turn produced light in the form of photons. That's how astronomers detect black holes. In this approach, collapsing clouds in the early universe gave birth to overgrown baby black holes that weighed thousands or tens of thousands of solar masses.

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