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Unexpected discovery: Supermassive black hole the most distant ever detected

08 December 2017, 01:43 | Hattie Nash

Schematic representation of the look back into history

Schematic representation of the look back into history

It's a truly gargantuan black hole, some 800 million times the mass of our sun.

The discovery of a supermassive black hole more than 13 billion light years away is raising more questions about the early universe.

"This is the only object that we can observe from that era. But it's pretty hard to get that kind of a mass that early in the universe". In an email to MACH, she said she and the others have argued that, rather than being only about 100 to 1,000 times as massive as the sun, some black hole seeds must have been 10,000 to 100,000 times more massive. "They're rare, but they're very much there, and we need to figure out how they form", said Priyamvada Natarajan, an astrophysicist at Yale University who was not part of the research team.

The black hole formed at a time the universe was changing from a neutral environment to an ionized environment, he said.

Astronomers have found the oldest supermassive black hole ever discovered.

In particular, Eduardo investigated quasars are among the brightest astronomical objects that represent supermassive black holes surrounded by bright accretionary discs, which consist of matter. There, a spectrometer known as the Folded-port InfraRed Echellette (FIRE) was able to determine the objects' distance and mass based on its "redshift". The instrument was developed with the participation of the Professor Robert Simcoe, and today he operates a 6.5-meter Giant Magellan telescope, located in Chile.

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When the universe began, it was like a very hot soup of extremely energetic but formless particles. Stars then switched on and reacted with the swirling hydrogen, beginning of process of re-ionization.

"Something is causing gas within the quasar to move around at very high speed, and the only phenomenon we know that achieves such speeds is orbit around a supermassive black hole", Simcoe says.

Quasars are powered by supermassive black holes in the centers of galaxies - in this case, a black hole with nearly a billion times the mass of the Sun.

"This black hole grew far larger than we expected in only 690 million years after the Big Bang, which challenges our theories about how black holes form", said study co-author Daniel Stern of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Distant quasars are valuable sources of information about the early universe. Although the galaxy can be no more than 690 million years old, it has already formed an enormous amount of dust, and heavy chemical elements. Follow-up observations, as well as a search for similar quasars, are on track to put our picture of early cosmic history onto a solid footing. "We now have the most accurate measurements to date of when the first stars were turning on". This black hole was seen gorging material at the centre of the galaxy.

For scientists 2017 is the most fruitful year. "So there must be another way that it formed".



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