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Astronomers discover the oldest and farthest quasars and supermassive black holes 13 billion light-years away

It’s bright to lie in the distant universe more than 13 billion light-years away. “quasarFueled by Supermassive black hole 1.6 billion times the mass of the sun. Astronomers recently discovered a galactic beast, marking the oldest of its species.

Ancient quasarIs defined as a bright, huge, remote active galactic nucleus by an international team led by researchers at the University of Arizona and is called J0313-1806. It dates back to a staggering 670 million years after the Big Bang, when the infant universe was only 5% of its current age.

It makes it the farthest-fastest-known quasar. A former record-holding quasar was also recently discovered in 2017.

J0313-1806 is only 20 million light-years away from its predecessor, Supermassive black hole Is twice as heavy — challenges known theories about the formation of black holes in the early universe.

The team presented their findings at the 237th Virtual Conference of the American Astronomical Society this week. It will be published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.

“This is the earliest evidence of how supermassive black holes affect the host galaxies around them,” lead author Feige Wang said in a statement. “From observations of galaxies not far away, we know that this must happen, but we have never seen it happen so early in the universe.”

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An international team of astronomers has discovered the farthest quasar in the universe, fully formed about 670 million years after the Big Bang.

NOIRLab / NSF / AURA / J.Da Silva


Scientists believe that supermassive black holes swallow large amounts of matter, such as gases and stars, forming an accretion disk that swirls around itself, creating quasars. These objects are the brightest in the universe because of this enormous amount of energy.

Objects are also the first of its kind to provide evidence of hot gaseous winds erupting from black holes at one-fifth the speed of light. This is an amazing discovery.

However, the formation of quasars remains a bit of a challenge.

Black holes are usually formed when a star explodes, dies and collapses, and supermassive black holes grow as the black holes fuse over time. However, early cosmic quasars are too young to grow so quickly.

The supermassive black hole in the center of J0313-1806 is very large and is still growing because it ingests a mass equivalent to about 25 suns each year. Many hypotheses so far cannot explain it.

“This tells you that no matter what you do, this black hole species must have been formed by a different mechanism,” co-author Xiaohui Fan said. “In this case, it involves a large amount of primitive cold hydrogen gas decaying directly into the seed black hole.”

In that scenario, the star does not collapse into a black hole, but instead a large amount of cold hydrogen gas.


CosmoView Episode 17: The earliest supermassive black holes and quasars in the universe Along
NOIRLabAstro On youtube

When quasars blow up their surroundings, they eliminate much of the cold gas needed for the stars to form. For this reason, scientists believe that the supermassive black hole in the center of the galaxy may be the reason why the galaxy stops forming new stars.

“We think these supermassive black holes are the reason why many large galaxies stopped star formation at some point,” said Fan. “We observe this” quenching “with a lower redshift, but until now we did not know how early this process began in the history of the universe. This quasar is the earliest evidence that quenching may have occurred very early. “

J0313-1806 delivers 200 solar masses annually. For comparison Milky Way It forms stars at a “relaxed pace” of about 1 solar mass each year.

“This is a relatively high star formation rate, similar to that observed with other quasars of the same age, which tells us that the host galaxy is growing very fast.” Said the king.

“These quasars are probably still building supermassive black holes,” Fan added. “Over time, the quasar spill is heated and all gas is pushed out of the galaxy. After that, the black hole is no longer eaten and stops growing. This is these earliest giants. Evidence of how a galaxy and its quasars grow. “

Quasars can get a glimpse of galaxy formation at the beginning of the universe, but researchers need more powerful telescopes to study it further. NASA James Webb Space Telescope, Allows for a more detailed investigation, due out this year.

“With a ground-based telescope, you can only see point sources,” Wang said. “Future observations may allow us to elucidate quasars in more detail and show the structure of their outflows and how much wind spreads into the galaxy, which may give us better ideas about the evolutionary stages of quasars. can be obtained.”

Astronomers discover the oldest and farthest quasars and supermassive black holes 13 billion light-years away

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