Scientists have discovered a supermassive black hole in the middle of a distant galaxy, which formed a mind-boggling 13.4 billion years ago.
The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has enabled scientists to pinpoint an ancient black hole that formed just 400 million years after the Big Bang, in the universe’s infancy.
In more human terms, if the universe were 50 years old, the newly discovered black hole would have formed in the first 15 months of its existence. Following the analogy, our planet would have formed when the universe was 33 years old.
The peer-reviewed discovery, made by Roberto Maiolino, an astrophysicist at the University of Cambridge, was published in the Nature magazine earlier this week. Maiolino, together with his colleagues, claims that the supermassive black hole is the reason why galaxy GN-z11 is so luminous.
While luminous galaxies are nothing uncommon, GN-z11 formed so early in the universe’s existence that it hardly would have had the time to develop numerous bright stars. Meanwhile, Maiolino’s paper argues that a feasting supermassive black hole creates the light.
While black holes don’t emit any light, matter streaming towards it does. Scientists believe the black hole, which is 1.6 million times more massive than our Sun, consumes so much matter it produces the galaxy’s intense luminosity.
The discovery aims to explain the formation of modern supermassive black holes, which grew so massive that our whole solar system would not fill their diameter.
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