The oldest black hole ever known to mankind has been discovered recently by scientists and it gives us a slight peek into the unknown event regarding the Big Bang – the birth of the vast Cosmos.
The Carnegie Institution for Science, based in California, had been leading the science team, who had on their disposal some pretty impressive tech gadgets like the WISE telescope (Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer), which are used directly into orbit. The technology was crucial for making this discovery and all the facts about it had been published in the Nature science journal.
The surroundings of the gigantic black hole consist mainly of dust and gas in an extremely high temperature region, and the sum of it all is called a quasar. The origins of the whole region are estimated to date about 690 million years after the initial Big Bang, and the time needed for the light of the event to travel through the universe and reach our time took approximately thirteen billion years, which is a quantity that is a bit hard to process at first.
So, imagine the size of the black whole inside of the quasar, named J1342+0928, when you keep in mind the fact that the estimated size of it is circa 800 million times more the size and mass of our Sun. That’s eight hundred million times bigger than the Sun. And it also makes this object the biggest black hole ever observed by far – the already known black holes located in galaxies we studied are much, much smaller. For example, our own galaxy is roughly four million times bigger than the Sun. Mind – blown.
On the other hand, the age of this newly found object means that it went so big very, very quickly, a sort of premature expansion, after which it settled down and became like most black holes found in the center of other galaxies.
The leading author of this study, Eduardo Banados, said that it must have been extremely hard to put all that mass in one spot in a short period of time, like things most likely happened.
The scientists which are coming up with possible theories in such studies, have really put their heads together and are trying really hard to give a reasonable explanation about how this process was carried on and if there are alternative ways for this to happen. If other black holes, similar to this one, are found and studied, this would be the best possible way the growth pattern of these objects.
The initially formed galaxies in the known universe were just starting to shape when this quasar already existed in its place. The radiation emitted in the process of forming those galaxies actually ionized the gas in interstellar space, thus the whole universe was transformed and was no longer neutral, but became ionized. Scientists call this process the epoch of reionization and this is the time when the stars actually started shining.
Neutral hydrogen surrounds the quasar, and that is a proof that it belongs to that same epoch. The exact distance of the object was calculated by measuring its light stretching, which has been caused by the universe’s expansion – or simply called a redshift. The rule is that the higher the redshift is positioned, the longer is the distance to it, and in this particular case it measures 7.54.
Assumingly, no more than twenty percent of all quasars with such brightness and located so far away can be observed from our planet, and that’s exactly why this discovery is so important.
One of the study’s co-authors, Xiaohui Fan from the Steward Observator in Arizona, stated that the far distance is the reason for such objects to look fainted when they are observed from our planet. He claims that another rare thing in this case is that early quasars are very hard to find on the sky. Before this discovery, only one other quasar in existence with a bigger redshift than the seven up to date was known to scientists, despite the constant search for such objects.
Astronomers everywhere are keeping their fingers crossed in hope to be able to observe more of these objects when a few of the much anticipated new telescopes are completed and fully functional, like the GMT (Giant Magellan Telescope), which is expected to be completed in 2025 in Chile.
H/T – Source