Sci-tech

Astronomers Found The Most Distant Supermassive Black Hole Ever Seen

Astronomers Found The Most Distant Supermassive Black Hole Ever Seen

At the center of a distant galaxy, scientists have found the oldest black hole ever discovered, and it's so freakish it's posing some perplexing questions. The researchers also show that the black hole already weighed a hard-to-explain 780 million times the mass of the sun.

Finding such a large black hole existing so early in the universe's history surprised the researchers.

Simcoe, Bañados, and their colleagues believe the newly discovered quasar existed during this fundamental transition, just at the time when the universe was undergoing a drastic shift in its most abundant element. One day it could help throw light on a number of cosmic mysteries which include how the universe got cleared of the murky fog that once filled the entire cosmos and how black holes could have reached gargantuan sizes quickly after the Big Bang. Most are dormant, and thus are only "seen" by how their huge gravity affects the objects around them. Its very existence then challenges current notions about the formation and growth of such objects, they said.

It's not the brightest or most massive - that honor belongs to a quasar called SDSS J0100+2802, which boasts barely-comprehensible stats like a mass of 12 billion Suns, and a luminosity of 420 trillion Suns.

When this black hole was formed, the universe was transitioning from this dark phase into something more similar to what we see today.

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The black hole formed at a time the universe was changing from a neutral environment to an ionized environment, he said. It is the most distant black hole ever discovered.

Much bigger black holes are out there, but none so far away - at least among those found so far.

"This object provides us with a measurement of the time at which the universe first became illuminated with starlight", said another of the researchers, physics professor Robert Simcoe of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research.

"The number of quasars as luminous and as distant as we've just found ... there should be between 20 and 100 over the entire sky", Eduardo Bañados of Carnegie and lead author of the study says.

When the universe began, it was like a very hot soup of extremely energetic but formless particles. It dates back to 690 million years after the Big Bang. After gravity condensed matter, the first stars and galaxies were formed. 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. Astronomers observe the pattern occurred around 690 million years from the formation of the Universe, even before reionizatsii. It's part of a long-term search for the earliest quasars, which will still proclaim. That means that the black hole quasar was formed exactly during that reionization phase after the Big Bang event.


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