This mysterious black hole at the dawn of time weighs a billion suns: ScienceAlert

The black hole discovered lurking at the cosmic dawn is too large to be easily explained. This galaxy is located at the center of a galaxy called J1120+0641, which has a mass of more than a billion suns.

There are even bigger black holes all around us today. The problem is when It is difficult to understand how the black hole was able to gain so much mass less than 770 million years after the Big Bang.

We’ve known about the galaxy and its massive black hole for more than a decade, and scientists have had ideas about how it came to be. Now, observations using James Webb I’ve disproved one of those notions. By all accounts, J1120+0641 appears “shockingly normal,” leaving open more exotic explanations for the black hole’s increased weight.

J1120+0641 has been discovered. Announced in 2011For several years, it remained the farthest known quasar galaxy. It’s been a good few years actually. As far as we know, J1120+0641 was an anomalous galaxy, and a possible explanation for its size remains unclear.

Quasar galaxies are galaxies that contain a central supermassive black hole that is feeding at an enormous rate. It is surrounded by a huge cloud of gas and dust, which is absorbing it as quickly as possible. Friction and gravity around the black hole heat up the material, making it shine brightly.

But the speed at which a black hole can feed is not infinite. The maximum constant rate is determined by edington limitafter which the hot material shines so intensely that… The radiation pressure will exceed the force of gravity.pushing matter away and leaving nothing for the black hole to feed on.

See also  Incredible video shows a meteor blaze across the Pennsylvania sky

Now, black holes can briefly enter Eddington superaccretion, where they rush through this boundary and swallow as much matter as they can before radiation pressure kicks in. This is one possible explanation for the black hole at the center of J1120+.0641, and as we find them in greater numbers, there are other massive black holes lurking in the early universe.

To look for signs of Eddington superaccretion, astronomers needed data of sufficient resolution to perform a detailed analysis of the galaxy’s light, looking for signs of extreme processes. For that, we needed the James Webb Space Telescope, the most powerful space telescope ever built, optimized to peer into these distant regions of space and time.

The James Webb Space Telescope observed the galaxy in early 2023, and a team led by astronomer Sarah Bosman of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Germany analyzed the light it collected to characterize the properties of the material surrounding the black hole: a massive ring of dust on the outskirts, and a glowing disk orbiting and feeding on the black hole.

This analysis reveals that the black hole is feeding very normally, and nothing about its accretion looks significantly different from other, more recent quasar galaxies.

One possible explanation for the existence of these giant black holes is that extra dust was causing astronomers to overestimate their masses. However, there is no sign of additional dust either.

This means that J1120+0641 is what it looks like: a fairly ordinary quasar galaxy, with a black hole that is not gobbling up material at very high rates. The black hole, and the way it feeds, was relatively mature by the time we observed it, within a few hundred million years of the Big Bang.

See also  Watch SpaceX Crew-8 astronauts move their Dragon onto the International Space Station on May 2

“Overall, the new observations add to the mystery: early quasars were shockingly normal.” Boseman says“No matter what wavelengths we observe them at, quasars are almost identical throughout all ages of the universe.”

This means that Eddington superaccretion is not the answer to the growth of the puzzlingly massive black holes at the dawn of history.

Another leading explanation is that black holes formed from fairly massive “seeds” to begin with. Rather than a slow, gradual process from something the size of a star, this theory suggests that black holes formed from the collapse of clumps of matter or even massive stars hundreds of thousands of times the mass of the Sun, giving their growth a head start.

As we find more and more of these giant monsters hiding in the mists of the early universe, this idea seems less outlandish, and more like the best possible explanation we have for this mysterious era in the history of our universe.

The research was published in Astronomy Nature.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *