Monster black hole discovered at cosmic dawn

Mar 1, 2015

Credit: Zhaoyu Li/NASA/JPL-Caltech/Misti Mountain Observatory

By Science Daily

Scientists have discovered the brightest quasar in the early universe, powered by the most massive black hole yet known at that time. The international team led by astronomers from Peking University in China and from the University of Arizona announce their findings in the scientific journal Nature on Feb. 26.

The discovery of this quasar, named SDSS J0100+2802, marks an important step in understanding how quasars, the most powerful objects in the universe, have evolved from the earliest epoch, only 900 million years after the Big Bang, which is thought to have happened 13.7 billion years ago. The quasar, with its central black hole mass of 12 billion solar masses and the luminosity of 420 trillion suns, is at a distance of 12.8 billion light-years from Earth.

The discovery of this ultraluminous quasar also presents a major puzzle to the theory of black hole growth at early universe, according to Xiaohui Fan, Regents’ Professor of Astronomy at the UA’s Steward Observatory, who co-authored the study.

“How can a quasar so luminous, and a black hole so massive, form so early in the history of the universe, at an era soon after the earliest stars and galaxies have just emerged?” Fan said. “And what is the relationship between this monster black hole and its surrounding environment, including its host galaxy?


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10 comments on “Monster black hole discovered at cosmic dawn

  • I heard today that Schwarzchild, the guy who first proposed black holes, was computing shell trajectories in WWI. Between shots he computed the effects of concentrating a lot of matter in a small space. He would not even have had a hand calculator, much less a computer.

    I watched a video by Brian Green. He pointed out that neither quantum mechanics nor general relativity can properly deal with black holes. (Another possibility is they are just too weird to contemplate and the math is telling us that.)



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  • As only the light from matter above the event horizon can be seen in Black Holes, gravity is the tool which helps investigate them further.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-31642215

    Lisa Pathfinder: ‘Exquisite’ gravity probe leaves UK

    .British industry has completed construction of the modules that make up the Lisa Pathfinder satellite.

    This remarkable probe will test the key technologies needed to detect gravitational waves in space.

    If that can be done, it would open up black holes and other astrophysical phenomena to a completely new era of scientific investigation.

    Lisa Pathfinder’s modules were assembled at the UK arm of Airbus Defence and Space.

    They leave for Germany on Monday, to go to the IABG consultancy just outside Munich for some final integration and testing.

    From there, they will be shipped to Kourou in French Guiana for a rocket launch in September.



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  • What Schwarzschild did was a mixture of algebra and calculus, and doesn’t rely on anything a computer would help you with.

    General relativity describes black holes, but doesn’t include quantum effects. We still don’t know exactly how to combine the two, although we do know a fair bit about the thermodynamics that results. No physicist expects black holes to be impossible to treat with mathematics; it’s just that the relevant formalism will be more advanced than what we use today.



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  • “(Another possibility is they are just too weird to contemplate and the math is telling us that.)”

    The “too weird to contemplate” part comes from a lack of sufficient accurate data. If we had that, then good theories would be forthcoming.

    Thousands of years ago, the “God theory” was invented due to a lack of sufficient accurate data. Good theories evolve quickly when adequate data is available.



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  • “. . . gravity is the tool which helps investigate (black holes) further.”

    Gravity is assumed to be a perfect tool for probing because gravity is perfectly linear. Scientists assume that under all circumstances, the strength of the gravitational field is proportional to the mass generating that field.

    Suppose, though that when the mass is increased sufficiently, then the gravitational field is no longer proportional (becomes nonlinear).

    Big bangs and other crazy stuff might result from such a circumstance.



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