Scientists observe supermassive black hole in infant universe

Steve Phelps
December 8, 2017

The most distant and oldest supermassive black hole ever seen has been discovered, astronomers announced in a study published Wednesday. Based on the quasar's redshift, the researchers calculated the mass of the black hole at its center and determined that it is around 800 million times the mass of the sun.

Quasars are thought to be among the brightest objects in the universe. He was stunned. With a whopping mass, 800 times larger than that of our Sun, the black hole is nearly as old as the world itself.

The astronomers reportedly plan to keep looking for more distant quasars to understand what was happening in the universe at the time.

An worldwide team of scientists worked on this study, which has been published in Nature, and discovered the farthest and likely the earliest black hole quasar ever.

That means it took more than 13 billion years for the light from the quasar to reach us, a time when our universe was still quite young. Most are dormant, and thus are only "seen" by how their vast gravity affects the objects around them.

"The moment when the first stars turned on is when our universe filled with light", says Simcoe, who explains that when this light leaked out of the first galaxies, it interacted with the surrounding matter and changed its properties.

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

That dates it to a time when the first stars started to light up the inky blackness of the early universe. The earliest known galaxy discovered by the Hubble space telescope existed 400 million years after the Big Bang, according to NASA's website. "But it's pretty hard to get that kind of a mass that early in the universe". Discovery challenges theories about the formation of black holes.

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

"We expect to find more such objects as new surveys of the sky come online [in] the next decade", Simcoe told MACH, adding that such astronomical investigations are "expected to be a growth industry".

When the universe began, it was like a very hot soup of extremely energetic but formless particles. It is surrounded by neutral hydrogen, indicating that it is from the period called the epoch of reionization, when the universe's first light sources turned on. 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. 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. 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. Astronomers believe that the black hole was formed in a universe which was about half neutral and half ionized.

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