(ORDO NEWS) — Astronomers from the University of Texas and Arizona have discovered a rapidly growing black hole in a galaxy in the very early universe.
Scientists believe that this is a galaxy with an extreme level of star formation.
Using observations made with the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) radio observatory in Chile, the team determined that the galaxy COS-87259, which hosts this new supermassive black hole, is forming stars at a rate 1,000 times faster than the rate of star formation in the Milky Way.
The galaxy contains interstellar dust weighing a billion solar masses. COS-87259 shines brightly due to both this intense burst of star formation and the growing supermassive black hole at its center.
This black hole is thought to be a new type of primordial black hole one that is heavily shrouded in cosmic dust, causing almost all of its light to be emitted in the mid-infrared electromagnetic spectrum.
The researchers also found that this growing supermassive black hole (often referred to as an active galactic nucleus) generates a powerful jet moving at close to the speed of light through its parent galaxy.
Today, black holes with masses millions and billions of times greater than the mass of our Sun are at the center of almost every galaxy.
How these supermassive black holes first formed remains a mystery to scientists.
Because the light from these sources takes so long to reach us, we see them as they were in the past. In this case, just 750 million years after the Big Bang.
What is particularly surprising about this new object is that it was found in a relatively small area of the sky – less than 10 times the size of the full moon.
This suggests that thousands of such sources may have existed in the very early universe.
Ryan Endsley, lead author of the paper and now a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Texas at Austin, says: “These results suggest that very early supermassive black holes were often heavily obscured by dust, possibly as a result of intense star formation activity in their host galaxies.
This is something that others have been predicting for several years now, and it’s really exciting to see the first direct observational data supporting this scenario.”
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