690 million years after the Big Bang, Astronomers spot monstrous black hole

690 million years after the Big Bang, Astronomers spot monstrous black hole

Artist's conceptions of the most-distant supermassive black hole ever discovered, which is part of a quasar from just 690 million years after the Big Bang.

Black holes are the Very Hungry Caterpillars of the Universe - this is known.

More specifically, Simcoe explained, it seems this supermassive black hole came into being in an environment that had only begun to be affected by the very first stars' light. Using redshift, the team determined this quasar is 13 billion light-years away, so in effect, it's a glimpse into the very distant past.

The discovery of a massive black hole so early in the universe may provide key clues on conditions at that time, which allowed for huge black holes to form.

The black hole resides in a quasar and its light reaches us from when the universe was only 5% of its current age - over 13 billion years ago, or "just" 690 million years after the Big Bang.

Prior to this discovery, the record-holder for the furthest known quasar existed.

The Big Bang started the universe as a hot, murky soup of extremely energetic particles that was rapidly expanding. The energy released by these ancient galaxies caused the neutral hydrogen strewn throughout the universe to get excited and ionize, or lose an electron, a state that the gas has remained in since that time.

"The newfound quasar is so luminous and evolved that I would be surprised if this was the first quasar ever formed", Banados said. When we were looking at further distances, we were also looking for the history because of the time it takes for light to move across the universe. Stars and galaxies were first resembling, and their radiation is ionising the around hydrogen gas to illustrate the universe.

ULAS J1120+0641 set the previous record for the earliest, most distant quasar.

The was published in the British journal Nature.

In addition, another group of scientists, headed by Astronomy Professor of Astronomy, Dan Marrow, of the University of Arizona, announced the discovery of two unexpected colossal galaxies in the newly universe.

"This is one of the most rare and extreme clumps of dark matter in the universe", said Haworth.

The team used two Magellan telescope instruments to observe the supermassive black hole: FIRE, which made the discovery, and Fourstar, which was used for additional images.

Around the time of this newest quasar, the universe was emerging from a so-called Dark Ages. This includes data from the Gemini North observatory on Hawaii's Maunakea volcano and a Nasa space telescope called the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (Wise). "We have already secured observations for this object with a number of the most powerful telescopes in the world". 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.

Illustration by Robin Dienel, courtesy of Carnegie Institution for Science.



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