Mysterious black hole discovered at the dawn of the universe

Schematic representation of the look back into history

Using FIRE, the team identified one of Bañados' objects as a quasar with a redshift of 7.5, meaning the object was emitting light around 690 million years after the Big Bang. In an email to MACH, she said she and the others have argued that, rather than being only about 100 to 1,000 times as massive as the sun, some black hole seeds must have been 10,000 to 100,000 times more massive.

Even earlier in the early universe, before any stars or black holes existed, the chaotic scramble of naked protons and electrons came together to make hydrogen atoms.

Throughout the time of this newest quasar, the universe was arising from the Dark Ages. The light from very distant, early cosmic objects shifts toward redder wavelengths on its journey across the universe, as the universe expands. They are known to be the driving force behind quasars which are one of the brightest objects in the Universe. Quasar light can be decoded to yield information about the hydrogen atoms the light has encountered along its billion-light-year-journey.

The astronomers reportedly plan to keep looking for more distant quasars to understand what was happening in the universe at the time.

About 380,000 years after the Big Bang, the universe had cooled down sufficiently to form hydrogen atoms. The timing and specifics of this cosmic reionization are still an open question.

An global team of scientists worked on this study, which has been published in Nature, and discovered the farthest and likely the earliest black hole quasar ever. But this black hole arose in a universe that was only 690 million years old - not almost enough time to accumulate the mass needed to grow so big.

The astronomer who found the odd black hole said that there's no way of explaining how a black hole would be able to pick up such mass, and that it might challenge out current understandings of how black holes form. Explaining how such a massive black hole could have formed in such a comparatively short amount of available time is a challenge for models of supermassive black hole formation, and effectively rules out some of those models.

"This black hole grew far larger than we expected in only 690 million years after the Big Bang, which challenges our theories about how black holes form", said study co-author Daniel Stern of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. This classifies it as a quasar, and it's largely what allowed astronomers to discover it.

For scientists 2017 is the most fruitful year. This means it must already have formed a large amount of stars.

Several ground-based observatories, including the United Kingdom Infrared Telescope on Maunakea, made the initial discovery of the black hole, while the 8-meter Gemini telescope followed up by measuring the mass with its near-infrared spectrograph. "It has an extremely high mass, and yet the universe is so young that this thing shouldn't exist".

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