by Brooks Hays
Washington DC (UPI) Oct 01, 2020
Using the Very Large Telescope, a powerful observatory in Chile, astronomers have identified six galaxies trapped in the web of a supermassive black hole when the universe was just 900 million years old.
The discovery, described Thursday in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics, helps explain how supermassive black holes got so big so soon after the Big Bang.
"This research was mainly driven by the desire to understand some of the most challenging astronomical objects -- supermassive black holes in the early universe," lead study author Marco Mignoli said in a news release.
"These are extreme systems and to date we have had no good explanation for their existence," said Mignoli, an astronomer at the National Institute for Astrophysics in Italy.
The findings lend support to the theory that web-like structures of gas fueled the rapid growth of supermassive black holes in the early universe. When scientists measured the extent of the spider web of gas, they found it stretched to a size 300 times that of the Milky Way.
"The cosmic web filaments are like spider's web threads," said Mignoli. "The galaxies stand and grow where the filaments cross, and streams of gas -- available to fuel both the galaxies and the central supermassive black hole -- can flow along the filaments."
The light captured by Very Large Telescope was produced by galaxies located 12.8 billion light-years away, which means it has been traveling through space for 12.8 billion years -- offering astronomers a view of the universe when it was just 900 million years old, a relative infant.
Astronomers estimate the first black holes formed after the collapse of the universe's first generation of stars, not long after the Big Bang, but how these early black holes grew so big so fast has remained a mystery.
The discovery suggests the supply of gas and material trapped by web-like filaments of gas helped fuel this rapid growth. Astronomers suspect concentrations of dark matter helped organize and grow these web-like structures.
"Our finding lends support to the idea that the most distant and massive black holes form and grow within massive dark matter halos in large-scale structures, and that the absence of earlier detections of such structures was likely due to observational limitations," said study co-author Colin Norman, astronomer at Johns Hopkins University.
The galaxies imaged by VLT and its MUSE and FORS2 instruments are some of faintest objects yet to identified in the early universe.
With a handful of more powerful telescopes currently under construction, researchers said they expect to soon be able to spot even fainter galaxies, black holes and webs of gas in the distant universe.
"We believe we have just seen the tip of the iceberg, and that the few galaxies discovered so far around this supermassive black hole are only the brightest ones," said co-author Barbara Balmaverde, an astronomer at INAF
Cosmic X-rays reveal an indubitable signature of black holes
Mumbai, India (SPX) Sep 22, 2020
An international team of astrophysicists has found distinctive signatures of black hole event horizon, unmistakably separating them from neutron stars - objects, comparable to black holes in mass and size but confined within a hard surface. This is by far the strongest steady signature of stellar-mass black holes to date. The team consisting of Mr. Srimanta Banerjee and Professor Sudip Bhattacharyya from the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, India, and Professor Marat Gilfanov and Professor ... read more
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2021 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Statement Our advertisers use various cookies and the like to deliver the best ad banner available at one time. All network advertising suppliers have GDPR policies (Legitimate Interest) that conform with EU regulations for data collection. By using our websites you consent to cookie based advertising. If you do not agree with this then you must stop using the websites from May 25, 2018. Privacy Statement. Additional information can be found here at About Us.|