Mysterious black hole discovered at the dawn of the universe

08 December, 2017, 01:45 | Author: Rolando Keller
  • Scientists find 'behemoth' black hole so big it could challenge our understanding of the universe's beginning

The hole is in the center of the bright quasar, the light from which reached Earth only after 13 billion years.

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

Venemans Bram of the Max Planck Institute and an author on the paper says it's likely the early universe favored the formation of massive, unstable stars that exploded after a few million years, producing metals more rapidly than our present universe. The light of the newly discovered most distant quasar yet carries crucial information regarding one of the earliest phases of the universe, the so-called reionization phase.

Geballe said the research team led by Eduardo Banados, an astronomer at the Carnegie Institution for Science, initially tried to measure the black hole's mass with a telescope in Arizona, but atmospheric conditions proved too hard. The find of this supermassive black hole is puzzling astronomers because they can't figure out how this black hole was formed so early in the universe's history. Most are dormant, and thus are only "seen" by how their huge gravity affects the objects around them. "This adds to our understanding of our universe at large because we've identified that moment of time when the universe is in the middle of this very rapid transition from neutral to ionized".

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The black hole was detected by Eduardo Bañados, an astronomer at Carnegie, who found the object while combing through multiple all-sky surveys, or maps of the distant universe.

The distance to the quasar was about 13 billion years. As the gas falls into the black hole, it speeds up, heats up and brightens, which allows astronomers to see them from across the universe. "What was surprising here was that this one seemed to be fully formed even though the universe was very young at this period in time".

The black hole doesn't match up with existing formation models based on what occurred following the Big Bang. Immediately following the Big Bang, the universe resembled a cosmic soup of hot, extremely energetic particles. But the universe remained dark, without any luminous sources until the gravity created the first stars and galaxies that corresponds to our period. It's part of a long-term search for the earliest quasars, which will still proclaim.

"It's a moment when the first galaxies emerged from their cocoons of neutral gas and started to shine their way out", Simcoe said. Although the galaxy can be no more than 690 million years old, it has already formed an enormous amount of dust, and heavy chemical elements. At some point, the radiation released by material as it falls into the black hole carries out so much momentum that it blocks new gas from falling in and disrupts the flow. They extrapolated from that to estimate that the universe as a whole was likely about half neutral and half ionized at the time they observed the quasar.

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