Only 670 million years after the Big Bang, the quasar J0313-1806 was born. It is the most distant black hole ever discovered. NOIRLab / NSF / AURA / J. da Silva
A quasar has been discovered in a dark corner of the space is over 13.03 billion light years away, and it contains a supermassive black hole 1.6 billion times more massive than the sun at its core.
Nicknamed J0313-1806, the quasar, as we see,dates from a time when the universe was only 670 million years old, about 5% of its current age. At such a distance, J0313-1806 becomes the record holder for the first black hole, dethroning the former champion , J1342 + 0928, who was discovered in 2017 and existed when the universe didn 't have than 690 million years.
The discovery, which was announced Tuesday at the 237th Meeting of the American Astronomical Society , helps shed light on the environment in the ancient universe. But, like any good story in astrophysics, this leaves researchers with a number of puzzling questions.
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Quasars are extremely bright objects - the brightest in the universe. They are found in the center of galaxies, but at their own center is a supermassive black hole, millions to billions of times larger than the sun. The intense gravity surrounding the black hole captures gas and dust and potentially even tears apart the stars, leaving a trail of debris in a disk surrounding it. The debris spins at an incredible speed and expels extreme amounts of energy, which observers on Earth can see through the electromagnetic spectrum as bright light.
And it is bright.
J0313-1806, for example, shines 1000 times brighter than the entire Milky Way galaxy.
Astronomers were able to spot the quasar using a handful of ground observatories, including the Atacama Large Millimeter / submillimeter Array (ALMA) atChile, the world's largest radio telescope, and two observatories on Mauna Kea in Hawaii. The observations allowed the researchers to confirm the distance with great precision and to examine some of the properties of the supermassive black hole at the center of the quasar.
Their calculations estimate the mass of the black hole to be around 1.6 billion times that of the sun. But this poses a problem. Because the black hole cannot be older than 670 million years, traditional theories of black hole growth cannot explain its size in such a short time. Our current understanding of how black holes are formed implies that stars collapse on their own, but researchers say that couldn't explain why the J0313-1806 black hole is so huge.
"In or For the black hole to reach the size we see with J0313-1806, it would have had to start with a black hole of seeds of at least 10,000 masss solar cells, ”said Xiaohui Fan, an astronomer at the University of Arizona and co-author of an upcoming article describing the discovery. "This would only be possible in the direct collapse scenario. "
This scenario assumes that it is not a star that collapses into a black hole, but places large amounts of cold hydrogen gas in a cloud. The direct collapse theory is one way to explain why astronomers find such massive black holes in the early universe, but it is not the only significant discovery for the team.
Using spectral data, the team also speculates that the supermassive black hole is engulfing the equivalent of 25 suns every year - which means it's still growing. "These quasars are probably still building their supermassive black holes," Fan said.
The James Webb Space Telescope, wh ich is scheduled to be launched on the 31stOctober and could help give scientists another window into the early universe, revealing how these supermassive beasts came to be.
The work has been accepted for publication in Astrophysical Journal Letters.
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Update: Clarification of the age of the hole black in relation to the universe. An earlier version of this article indicated that the black hole was onlyat 670 million years old.