Earliest Black Hole Gives Rare Glimpse of Ancient Universe

08 Décembre, 2017, 00:43 | Auteur: Therese Cote
  • Schematic representation of the look back into history

That helped scientists estimate that the stars turned on roughly when it began its journey - about 696 million years after the big bang. The researchers also show that the black hole already weighed a hard-to-explain 780 million times the mass of the sun.

But, the black holes which formed during the universe's "early days" are different because, in theory, they couldn't have formed from the collapse of a huge star as the timelines don't match, as there was not enough time for the star to be born and live long enough to collapse to become a black hole.

It lived at a time shortly after clouds of energetic particles cooled into nitrogen gas, when the universe was only just inventing the idea of stars.

Distant quasars are valuable sources of information about the early universe.

After identifying several objects of interest, Bañados focused in on them using an instrument known as FIRE (the Folded-port InfraRed Echellette), which was built by Simcoe and operates at the 6.5-meter-diameter Magellan telescopes in Chile. So, this object was seen just at the edge of what we can see, looking that far back in time and space.

Astronomers have at least two gnawing questions about the first billion years of the universe, an era steeped in literal fog and figurative mystery.

The new super-massive black hole J1342+0928 (yellow star), which resides in a mostly neutral universe at the edge of cosmic dawn, is more distant than any other found to date (yellow dots).

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The black hole was detected by Eduardo Bañados of the Observatories of the Carnegie Institution for Science, who was scouring surveys of the sky to look for ancient objects like this one.

The black hole is there in a quasar and its light reaches us from when the universe was only 5% of its present age over 13 billion years ago, or "just" 690 million years after the Big Bang. This favours models which predict that reionization happened comparatively late in the history of the universe. This mass black hole could not be achieved in such a short period of time.

While the Big Bounce theory may suddenly sound a bit better, there may yet be undiscovered events in the early universe that could cause the rupture of time and space that produces a black hole.

So how could such a supermassive black hole - of a size that suggests it must be much, much older than 690 million years - get there? This classifies it as a quasar, and it's largely what allowed astronomers to discover it. This means it must already have formed a large amount of stars.

A high redshift indicates great distance, and as light takes its sweet time getting to Earth from elsewhere in space (at 186,000 miles per second), science can use this to gauge how far back in time we're seeing something.

"With several next-generation, even-more-sensitive facilities now being built, we can expect many exciting discoveries in the very early universe in the coming years".

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