Astronomers Found The Most Distant Supermassive Black Hole Ever Seen

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Astronomers have discovered the oldest supermassive black hole that appeared over 690 million years after the Big Bang.

It 800 million times heavier than the Sun, surprisingly a lot, considering the small age gap, which was formed through 690 million years after the Big Bang.

The results described here were published as Bañados et al., "An 800 million solar mass black hole in a significantly neutral universe at redshift 7.5" in the journal Nature, and as Venemans et al., "Copious amounts of dust and gas in a z=7.5 quasar host galaxy" in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.

It has been challenging for the scientists to explain how black holes gobbled up enough matter to reach supermassive sizes early in the history. The light of the newly discovered most distant quasar yet carries crucial information regarding one of the earliest phases of the universe, the so-called reionization phase.

An worldwide team of scientists worked on this study, which has been published in Nature, and discovered the farthest and likely the earliest black hole quasar ever.

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Although the universe is home to billions of planets and stars, scientists believe only 20 to 100 supermassive black holes exists, according to The Verge. Most are dormant, and thus are only "seen" by how their vast gravity affects the objects around them. Its very existence at that point in time challenges current notions about the formation and growth of such objects, they said.

Geballe said that makes it 200 times more massive than the black hole at the center of our galaxy, prompting the question: How did it get so big so fast? For instance, at nearly a billion solar masses, the quasar's central black hole is comparatively massive.

The black hole - an area in space-time with huge gravitational effects that can absorb all matter and energy - was formed when the universe was only 5% of its current age, The Independent reports. "It has an extremely high mass, and yet the universe is so young that this thing shouldn't exist". It is the most distant black hole ever discovered.

"This is the only object we have observed from this era", study co-author Robert Simcoe, from MIT's Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research, said in a statement. But the universe remained dark, without any luminous sources until the gravity created the first stars and galaxies that corresponds to our period. 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.

It's the first time we are able to detect something this old, and the prospect is exciting as it offers us a unique glimpse into the past. Astronomers observe the pattern occurred around 690 million years from the formation of the Universe, even before reionizatsii. It's thought that black holes grow by accreting, or absorbing mass from the surrounding environment.