Massive Black Hole Quasar Is The Farthest Ever Discovered

Scientists observe supermassive black hole in infant universe

Scientists observe supermassive black hole in infant universe

At a distance of about 13 billion lightyears, the most distant supermassive black hole known so far has been spotted by an worldwide team of astronomers. The universe was just not old enough to make a black hole that big. "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".

This giant black hole was formed just 690 million years after the Big Bang. The old and farthest black hole ever witnessed is a celestial brute 800 million times more extensive than the sun which is providing scientists with some wonders about the nature of the universe.

"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", Simcoe says.

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The supermassive black hole emerged when the universe was still in its infancy, and it took light carrying its image 13 billion years to reach us. It's also very active, devouring material at the center of a galaxy and emitting tremendous light in the process. Immediately following the Big Bang, the universe resembled a cosmic soup of hot, extremely energetic particles.

Bram Venemans says: "Models of galaxy evolution will need to be able to explain how a galaxy could form the stars needed to produce the observed amounts of dust and heavier chemical elements in such a comparatively short time". The universe was opaque or "foggy" as photons were interacting with early protons and electrons.

Quasars could be detected from the farthest corners of the world as they are the most distant objects known. The higher the redshift, the greater the distance, and the farther back astronomers are looking in time when they observe the object. 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.

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Caltech in Pasadena, California, manages JPL for NASA. Before first starlight, the universe was dominated by neutral hydrogen atoms. In black holes, gravity has such a strong pull that not even light can escape.

The researchers used FIRE to determine that a large fraction of the hydrogen surrounding the quasar is neutral.

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. Astronomers believe that the black hole was formed in a universe which was about half neutral and half ionized. "Gathering all this mass in fewer than 690 million years is an enormous challenge for theories of supermassive black hole growth".

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"If you start with a seed like a big star, and let it grow at the maximum possible rate, and start at the moment of the Big Bang, you could never make something with 800 million solar masses - it's unrealistic", Simcoe says. "And how exactly that happens, nobody knows".

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