Wednesday, February 28, 2024

The oldest black hole ever found in the universe…questions about its massive size

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Astronomers have revealed the signatures of a black hole more than 13 billion years old, captured by the James Webb Space Telescope.

Strangely, this hole is a million times more massive than the Sun, which is unusual for a small black hole, raising the question of how it could grow so quickly.

Scientists discovered this hole at the heart of the galaxy that arose 440 million years after the Big Bang.

“The surprise is that it’s so big,” said astrophysicist Roberto Maiolino of the University of Cambridge, who led the observations. “This is a very unexpected thing,” the newspaper reported.Guardian“.

The paper pointed out that scientists have found clear signs of its accretion disk, a halo of gas and dust swirling around the cosmic stream.

Black holes millions of times the mass of the Sun lie at the center of massive galaxies like our Milky Way.

Astronomers hope that old black holes can help solve the mystery of how their giant counterparts grow in the centers of galaxies like the Milky Way.

Until recently, it was thought to have been growing steadily over about 14 billion years simply by accreting, merging and swallowing stars and other objects. But this snowball scenario cannot fully explain the epic proportions of today’s supermassive black holes.

Scientists’ observations of the galaxy known as GNZ11 indicate that the black holes were either born massive early on or accreted very quickly.

“Understanding the origin of black holes has always been a mystery, but the mystery seems to be deepening now,” said Andrew Pontson, a cosmologist at College London, who was not involved in the research. He considered these results, using the power of the James Webb telescope to show that “some black holes grew at enormous rates in the young universe, much faster than we expected,” the spacecraft notes, looking back over time.

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One explanation now proposed is that the initial generation of black holes was born from the direct collapse of massive gas clouds, rather than from stars burning up under their own gravity at the end of their lives.

A second possibility is that compact clusters of stars and black holes coalesced very quickly in the early universe.

A third hypothesis is that so-called primordial black holes arose during cosmic inflation, a period when the universe expanded faster than light, which occurred just a fraction of a second after the Big Bang.

If the latter theory is correct, primordial black holes are effectively woven into the fabric of the universe from the beginning, after galaxies are believed to form first and then black holes begin to grow in them.

“If that’s true, it would have profound implications for our universe’s opening millisecond,” Pontson said. “Either way, the story of how black holes and galaxies came together is an interesting one, and we’re just getting started. Together.”

Nadia Barnett
Nadia Barnett
"Award-winning beer geek. Extreme coffeeaholic. Introvert. Avid travel specialist. Hipster-friendly communicator."

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