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Astronomers have just discovered the oldest supermassive black hole



Quasar

Only 670 million years after the Big Bang, the quasar J0313-1806 was born. This is the most distant black hole in history.

NOIRLab / NSF / AURA / J.Da Silva

A quasar was discovered in a dark corner of space more than 13.03 billion light-years away. Its supermassive black hole has a mass 1.6 billion times larger than its central sun.

As we can see, the quasar is called J0313-1806, and it comes from the universe only 670 million years old, which is about 5% of its current age.At this distance, J0313-1806 became the earliest black hole record holder Former championJ1342 + 0928, discovered in 2017, exists in the universe only 690 million years old.

The discovery was announced at the 237th meeting of the American Astronomical Society on Tuesday, and it helps reveal the environment of the ancient universe. But, like any good astrophysics story, it poses many confusing questions for researchers.

Quasars are extremely bright objects-the brightest objects in the universe. They are located in the center of the Milky Way, but in their own center there is a supermassive black hole whose mass is millions to billions of times greater than that of the sun. The huge gravity around the black hole traps gas and dust, and may even tear the star apart, leaving a pile of debris in the disk surrounding it. The debris rotates at an incredible speed and discharges an extremely large amount of energy. Observers on Earth can see bright light in the electromagnetic spectrum.

this is bright.

For example, the brightness of J0313-1806 is 1,000 times that of the entire Milky Way.

Astronomers can use a number of ground-based observatories to discover quasars, including Chile’s Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array (ALMA), the world’s largest radio telescope, and two observatories on Mauna Kea in Hawaii. These observations allow researchers to determine the distance with high accuracy and examine certain properties of the supermassive black hole at the center of the quasar.

Their calculation makes the mass of the black hole approximately 1.6 billion times that of the sun. But this brings problems. Since the age of a black hole cannot exceed 670 million years, the traditional black hole growth theory cannot explain its size in such a short period of time. Our current understanding of black hole formation involves the collapse of the star itself, but researchers say this cannot explain why the black hole of J0313-1806 is so large.

“In order for a black hole to grow to the size we see with J0313-1806, it must first produce seed black holes of at least 10,000 solar masses.” Arizona, and is a co-author of a paper describing this discovery to be published. “It’s only possible in the case of a direct crash.”

This situation shows that this is not a star It collapsed into a black hole, but a large amount of cold hydrogen gas was scattered in the cloud. The direct collapse theory is one of the ways to explain why astronomers discovered such a huge black hole in the early universe, but this is not the team’s only important discovery.

Using spectral data, the research team also speculates that the supermassive black hole consumes the equivalent of 25 suns every year-which means it is still growing. Fan said: “These quasars are probably still in the process of establishing their supermassive black holes.”

The James Webb Space Telescope is scheduled to launch on October 31. It can provide scientists with another window into the early universe and reveal how these super-large beasts formed.

The work has been accepted for publication in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.

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Update: Clarify the age of black holes and the universe. A previous version of this article pointed out that black holes are only 670 million years old.


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