Astronomers say the supermassive black hole discovered at the heart of an ancient galaxy is five times larger than expected in relation to the number of stars it contains.
Researchers discovered the supermassive black hole in a galaxy known as GS-9209 located 25 billion light-years from Earth, making it one of the most distant ever observed and recorded.
The team at the University of Edinburgh used the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) to observe the galaxy and reveal new details about its formation and history.
Dr. Adam Carnal, who led the effort, said the telescope — the most powerful telescope ever built — showed how galaxies were growing “bigger and older” than astronomers expected in the universe’s first billion years.
“This work gives us our first truly detailed look at the characteristics of these early galaxies, with a detailed chart of the history of GS-9209, which managed to form as many stars as our own Milky Way in just 800 million years after the Big Bang,” he said.
The “supermassive black hole” at the center of GS-9209 was a “huge surprise” that lends weight to the theory that such massive black holes are responsible for stopping star formation in early galaxies, Karnal said.
“The evidence we’re seeing of a supermassive black hole has been really unexpected,” Karnal said. “This is the kind of detail we couldn’t see without JWST.”
GS-9209 was discovered in 2004 by Karina Capote, a former PhD student in Edinburgh and now professor of observational cosmology at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands.
While GS-9209 contains nearly as many stars as our home galaxy, with a combined mass equal to 40 billion suns, it is only one-tenth the size of the Milky Way. The researchers said it is the oldest known example of a galaxy that has stopped forming stars.
Supermassive black holes can stop star formation because their growth releases huge amounts of high-energy radiation, which can heat and blow gas out of galaxies. Galaxies need huge clouds of gas and dust to collapse under their own gravity, thus forming new stars.
“the truth [that the black hole] So massive means that it must have been very active in the past, with so much gas falling, that it would have glowed so intensely as a quasar,” Karnal said. “All that energy from the black hole at the center of the galaxy would have disrupted the entire galaxy. seriously, preventing the gas from collapsing to form new stars.”
more details Published in Nature.
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