A recent find that was detailed in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society concerns a massive black hole in a galaxy that developed during the formative years in the history of the universe.
As large as the Milky Way, this galaxy contains a black hole containing at least a billion times as much matter as the sun.
It is estimated that this galaxy is about 12.8 billion light years away. The universe is roughly 13 billion years old, and faraway objects, such as this enormous black hole, are seen as they existed near the dawn of time since their light is just now arriving at Earth.
According to Tomotsugu Goto of the University of Hawaii and part of the team that made the discovery:
“It is surprising that such a giant galaxy existed when the universe was only one-sixteenth of its present age, and that it hosted a black hole one billion times more massive than the sun. The galaxy and black hole must have formed very rapidly in the early universe. The previous record holder for most distant host galaxy, found in 2005, was located at 12.5 billion light-years away, making the new finding a significant jump.”
Black holes are very mysterious, even to astronomers, as they can’t actually be seen (black holes, not astronomers). Their existence is presumed by the mass of circles that usually surround them, which allows scientists to calculate existing gravitational forces. Learning more about these black holes is of vital importance because it helps to unravel the mystery about the simultaneous evolution of galaxies and black holes.
The study of galaxies in the distant universe is no easy task due to the blinding bright light surrounding the black hole, which overpowers the faint glow emanating from the host galaxy. Smaller black holes, which form when a large star dies, are more understood and nowhere near as mysterious as the origin of the super-massive large ones.
One theory suggests that these huge black holes are the result of a merging of several intermediate black holes. This suggestion is somewhat supported by the fact that the host galaxy discovered in this work contains many such sized black holes.
In the words of Yousuke Utsumi of the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan:
“We have witnessed a supermassive black hole and its host galaxy forming together. This discovery has opened a new window for investigating galaxy-black hole co-evolution at the dawn of the Universe.”
What secrets will unfold from the discovery of this massive black hole?