The black hole is there in a quasar and its light reaches us from when the universe was only 5% of its present age over 13 billion years ago, or "just" 690 million years after the Big Bang.
The mass of the black hole is 800 million times that of the sun, the university said, and it sits in the center of a galactic object called a quasar.
"Quasars are among the brightest and most distant known celestial objects and are crucial to understanding the early universe", said Bram Venemans, co-author of the study and researcher for the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy. What's extraordinary about this black hole, aside from its massive size, is that its discovery will help scientists comprehend the processes of their growth during the time the universe was still forming. Astronomers have found a quasar - an active supermassive black hole - that is so distant, and thus so far back in time, that it challenges their models of how these gargantuan objects form.
A team led by Carnegie Observatories' Eduardo Banados published the discovery Wednesday in the journal Nature.
At a distance of about 13 billion lightyears, the most distant supermassive black hole known so far has been spotted by an worldwide team of astronomers. Most are dormant, and thus are only "seen" by how their enormous gravity affects the objects around them.
Geballe said that makes it 200 times more massive than the black hole at the center of our galaxy, prompting the question: How did it get so big so fast?
Black holes are some of the most mysterious regions of space ever discovered.
The black hole formed at a time the universe was changing from a neutral environment to an ionized environment, he said.
The distance to the quasar was about 13 billion years. In this black hole of extremely high mass, and given that the universe is quite young, it simply should not exist.
According to the theory, the first 400,000 years were a period of inflation, in which particles cooled and gelled into neutral hydrogen gas-a dark time before stars and starlight.
"It's a moment when the first galaxies emerged from their cocoons of neutral gas and started to shine their way out", Simcoe said. Eventually, gravity condensed matter into the first stars and galaxies, which in turn produced light in the form of photons. Follow-up observations, as well as a search for similar quasars, are on track to put our picture of early cosmic history onto a solid footing. From this, they inferred that stars must have begun turning on during this time, 690 million years after the Big Bang. At some point, the radiation released by material as it falls into the black hole carries out so much momentum that it blocks new gas from falling in and disrupts the flow.
Distant quasars are valuable sources of information about the early universe.
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