Colossal distant black hole holds surprises about early universe

Astronomers Find the Earliest Supermassive Black Hole Ever Discovered

A huge black hole has just been discovered that is about 13 billion light-years old - nearly as old as the universe itself.

It 800 million times heavier than the Sun, surprisingly a lot, considering the small age gap, which was formed through 690 million years after the Big Bang.

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

Quasars are thought to be among the brightest objects in the universe.

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

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

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 astronomers announced the most distant and oldest super massive black hole which was not seen even has now been discovered. Astronomers refer to this Doppler-like phenomenon as "redshift"; the more distant an object, the farther its light has shifted toward the red, or infrared end of the spectrum.




"This object gives us a picture of how the universe was when it was only five percent of its present age", BaƱados says.

Even in the most generous and optimistic estimate of the formation of black holes, creating such a massive one in such a relatively short period of time would be impossible.

But, the black holes which formed during the universe's "early days" are different because, in theory, they couldn't have formed from the collapse of a huge star as the timelines don't match, as there was not enough time for the star to be born and live long enough to collapse to become a black hole.

The team believes that the newly discovered black hole existed in an environment that was about half neutral, half ionized. And how did those behemoth black holes grow so big in so little time?

"What we have found is that the universe was about 50/50 - it's a moment when the first galaxies emerged from their cocoons of neutral gas and started to shine their way out", says MIT's Robert Simcoe, co-author of the study.

When the universe began, it was like a very hot soup of extremely energetic but formless particles. It took another 13 billion years to reach the earth, the researchers found.

"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. 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. It's part of a long-term search for the earliest quasars, which will still proclaim. 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.

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