Science

The Most-Distant Supermassive Black Hole Ever Found

Astronomers have discovered a black hole, having about 800 million suns’ worth of mass and is about 13 billion light-years away, when the universe was only 5% of its current age.

Pasadena, CA— Carnegie’s Eduardo Bañados and his team has discovered a most-distant supermassive black hole ever found by science, using Carnegie’s Magellan telescope. This black hole is nearly 800 million times more massive than our Sun and is about 13 billion light-years away from us.

It is found in a luminous quasar and its light reaches to earth from when the universe was only 5% of its current age, as published in the journal Nature. Studying this discovery can give us a clear picture of the past, i.e. how the Universe was evolving at that time.

“Quasars are among the brightest and most distant known celestial objects and are crucial to understanding the early Universe,” said co-author Bram Venemans of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Germany.

Quasars are powered by supermassive black holes in the centers of galaxies – in this case, a black hole with almost a billion times the mass of the Sun. Matter such as gas falling onto the black hole will form an ultra-hot accretion disk before falling in, making the whole setup one of the most luminous objects in the universe: a quasar. The newly discovered quasar shines as brightly as 40 trillion suns.

The quasar’s distance is described by a property called its redshift – a measurement of how much the wavelength of its light is stretched by the expansion of the Universe before reaching Earth.

Banados expects there are more examples like this out there, between 20 and 100. The light from the quasar took more than 13 billion years to reach Earth. Quasars as young as this one also yield valuable information about galaxy evolution.

Antennas of the NOEMA array, at IRAM. NOEMA was used to examine the host galaxy of the newly discovered most distant quasar to date.
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