A team of astronomers from Princeton University, Japan and Taiwan has discovered that at the beginning of the early universe and not long after the Big Bang, 83 supermassive black holes had formed and were powering quasars.
According to Phys.org, at the time that these supermassive black holes were created, the universe was still just an infant and a mere 10 percent of the age that it is today.
Michael Strauss, a professor of astrophysical sciences at Princeton University and also one of the co-authors of the new study, explained that it was astonishing to discover not only just how common supermassive black holes are, but that 83 of these could have formed at such an early stage of the universe.
“It is remarkable that such massive dense objects were able to form so soon after the Big Bang. Understanding how black holes can form in the early universe, and just how common they are, is a challenge for our cosmological models.”
The recent research into black holes has demonstrated that the sheer number of these objects found within the universe is much larger than originally estimated, with the new study also focusing on how such supermassive black holes may have affected the physical state of gas that was found in the infant universe.
Lurking in the distant corners of space are 83 monster black holes that can teach us about the early days of the cosmos.https://t.co/f6KhgYaTqS
— CNET News (@CNETNews) March 15, 2019
Supermassive black holes, which are commonly found lurking within the middle of galaxies, are frequently so imposing that they can be up to billions of times larger than the sun. While there are a large number of these black holes in existence today, astronomers are still not sure exactly when they first sprang into existence, nor how many could be found sprawling across the early universe.
Supermassive black holes are normally only spotted when gas forms around them, which in turn creates a brilliant quasar shine. While most past studies have mainly focused upon much brighter quasars, the newest research conducted on these objects has delved into more dim quasars.
To detect these 83 supermassive black holes, astronomers extracted data taken from an instrument known as the Hyper Suprime-Cam (HSC), which was placed upon the Subaru Telescope of the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan.
The black holes studied were found at a distance of 13 billion light-years away from the Earth. However, as the Big Bang is believed to have occurred 13.8 billion years ago, this means that these black holes showed up on the scene just 800 million years after the Big Bang, which was a great shock to astronomers.
The results of the new study on the 83 supermassive black holes that were detected in the early universe have been published in five different papers in The Astrophysical Journal.