Huge black holes have been detected in dying galaxies at the beginning of the universe

Huge black holes detected in dying galaxies at the beginning of the universe (Credit: Nasa / JPL-Caltech)

An international team of astronomers used a database that combined the observations of the world’s best telescopes to detect the signal. supermassive black holes active galaxies that die at the beginning of the universe.

The occurrence of these active supermassive black holes is related to changes in the host galaxy, suggesting that a black hole may have a significant impact on the evolution of its host galaxy.


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These were the results of the study published in the magazine Astrophysical Journal.

The Milky Way brings together stars of various ages, including the sun that is still forming. But in galaxies known as galaxies elliptical galaxies, all stars are old and about the same age. This indicates that at the beginning of their history, elliptical galaxies had a prosperous star formation that ended abruptly.

It is not clear why this star formation was interrupted in some galaxies but not in others. One possibility is that a supermassive black hole breaks gas in some galaxies, creating an unsuitable environment for star formation.

data combination

To test this theory, astronomers look at distant galaxies. Due to the limited speed of light, it takes time to travel through space. The light we see from an object 10,000 billion light-years away had to travel 10 billion years to reach Earth.

So the light we see today shows what the galaxy was like when the light left that galaxy 10,000 billion years ago. So looking at distant galaxies is like looking back in time. But due to the intermediate distance, it also means that distant galaxies appear weaker, which is difficult to study.

To overcome these difficulties, an international team led by Kei Ito on SOKENDAI in Japan used the Cosmic Evolution Survey (COSMOS) to sample galaxies 9.5 to 12.5 billion light-years away. COSMOS combines data from the world’s leading telescopes, including the Atacama Large Millimeter / Submillimeter Array (ALMA, Chile) and the Subaru Telescope (Japan). COSMOS collects radio waves, infrared light, visible light and X-ray data.

The group first used optical and infrared data to identify two groups of galaxies: those with continuous star formation and those that have stopped star formation. The signal-to-noise ratio of X-ray and radio wave data was too weak to identify individual galaxies.

So the team combined data from different galaxies to create higher “average” signal-to-noise ratios for galaxies. In average images, the team confirmed X-ray and radio emissions for non-stellar galaxies.

unprecedented feat

This is the first time that distant emissions have been detected in galaxies more than 10 billion light-years away. In addition, the results show that X-ray and radio emissions are too strong to explain only the stars in the galaxy, indicating the presence of an active supermassive black hole.

This sign of black hole activity is weaker in galaxies where stars are constantly forming.

These results show that a violent end of star formation in the early universe is associated with an increase in the activity of supermassive black holes. Further research is needed to determine the details of the relationship.



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