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James Webb discovers the oldest black hole in the universe

Article posted on a prepress server arXivnot yet reviewed, reports a startling discovery thanks to the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST): the oldest black hole in the universe.

Webb, whose powerful cameras allow him to “go back in time” to look at the early stages of the universe, discovered this supermassive black hole, with a mass of 10 million times that of the sun, at the center of a small galaxy that makes up 570 million. years ago. years after the beginning of the universe.

Artist’s drawing of a supermassive black hole. Photo: Mohamed Benseh – Shutterstock

The cosmic monster is just one of countless black holes gobbling up stellar material, growing to ever-increasing sizes during the “dawn of space,” a period that began about 100 million years after the Big Bang, when the young universe glowed. billion years.

The first of many

It is not known for certain why so many cosmic monsters existed in this period or how they became so large, but one thing is certain: with the new NASA space telescope and its future, even more powerful successors, many black holes from the same era will be able to are then observed.

“This is the first time we’ve found this redshift[pointintimeaftertheBigBangbuttheremustbealotofthem”leadauthorRebeccaLarssonanastrophysicistattheUniversityofTexasatAustintoldthewebsite[pontonotempoapósoBigBangmasdevehavermuitosdeles”disseaprincipalautoradoestudoRebeccaLarsonastrofísicadaUniversidadedoTexasemAustinaosite[نقطةزمنيةبعدالانفجارالعظيم،ولكنيجبأنيكونهناكالكثيرمنها”[pontonotempoapósoBigBangmasdevehavermuitosdeles”disseaprincipalautoradoestudoRebeccaLarsonastrofísicadaUniversidadedoTexasemAustinaositeScience lives. “There must be more young people who existed earlier in the universe.”

We’re just beginning to study this time in cosmic history in this way with JWST, and I’m excited for us to find more of it.

Rebecca Larson, astrophysicist and lead author of the study

These giants are born from the collapse of giant stars and grow by endlessly dumping gas, dust, stars and other black holes.

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For some greedy perturbations of space-time, friction causes the spiral material at the mouths of black holes to heat up, and they emit light that can be detected by telescopes – turning them into what are called active galactic nuclei (AGN).

The most extreme AGNs are quasars, supermassive black holes billions of times heavier than the sun that release their gaseous cocoons with bursts of light trillions of times brighter than the brightest stars.

Since light travels at a constant speed through the vacuum of space, the deeper scientists look into the universe, the more light they intercept and travel back in time.

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How was the oldest black hole in the universe discovered?

To discover the oldest black hole in the universe, astronomers scanned the sky with two Webb instruments — the Medium Infrared Instrument (MIRI) and the Near Infrared Camera (NIR) — and used the cameras’ internal spectrometers to scatter the light. at the frequencies of its components.

By unraveling these faint glows sent back from the early years of the universe, they found an unexpected bump between the frequencies found in the light — a key sign that the hot material around the black hole radiates faint traces of light across the universe.

Now, the researchers will begin working alongside the team that built MIRI to search for an even stronger signature of light from the distant galaxy that harbors the discovery. These emissions may hold more clues about how the mysterious cosmic monster at the center of this galaxy formed.

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