Massive black hole reveals when the first stars blinked on

Massive black hole reveals when the first stars blinked on

Massive black hole reveals when the first stars blinked on

"Gathering all this mass in fewer than 690 million years is an enormous challenge for theories of supermassive black hole growth", Eduardo Bañados, the Carnegie Institution for Science astronomer who led the discovery, said in a press release on Wednesday.

It has a cosmic age of 690 million years after the Big Bang, which means it probably started developing as the universe was transitioning from the period known as the dark ages of the universe - when there were no stars.

A black hole with the mass of the Sun exceeds 800 million times. Explaining how such a massive black hole could have formed in such a comparatively short amount of available time is a challenge for models of supermassive black hole formation, and effectively rules out some of those models. 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. Matter such as gas falling onto the black hole will form an ultra-hot accretion disk before falling in, making the whole setup one of the most luminous objects in the universe: a quasar.

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

Supermassive black holes are thought to exist at the centre of almost every galaxy in the universe. For instance, at nearly a billion solar masses, the quasar's central black hole is comparatively massive.

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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. The earliest known galaxy discovered by the Hubble space telescope existed 400 million years after the Big Bang, according to NASA's website. In black holes, gravity has such a strong pull that not even light can escape. "It has an extremely high mass, and yet the universe is so young that this thing shouldn't exist".

"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.

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. 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 continue. 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.

But most galaxies we've seen from that era are very, very small.

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