Clues found to explain the formation of giant Black Holes

May 27th, 2016, Published in Articles: EngineerIT


Using combined data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, the  Hubble Space Telescope, and Spitzer Space Telescope, astronomers have found the best evidence yet for cosmic seeds in the early universe that should grow into supermassive black holes.

“Our discovery, if confirmed, explains how these monster black holes were born,” said Fabio Pacucci of Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa, Italy, who led the study. “We found evidence that supermassive Black Hole seeds can form directly from the collapse of a giant gas cloud, skipping any intermediate steps.”

Scientists believe a supermassive black hole lies in the centre of nearly all large galaxies, including our own Milky Way. They have found that some of these supermassive black holes, which contain millions or even billions of times the mass of the sun, formed less than a billion years after the start of the universe in the Big Bang.

One theory suggests Black Hole seeds were built up by pulling in gas from their surroundings and by mergers of smaller black holes, a process that should take much longer than found for these quickly forming black holes.

These new findings suggest instead that some of the first Black Holes formed directly when a cloud of gas collapsed, bypassing any other intermediate phases, such as the formation and subsequent destruction of a massive star.

The team found two strong candidates for Black Hole seeds. Both of these matched the theoretical profile in the infrared data, including being very red objects, and also emit X-rays detected with Chandra. Estimates of their distance suggest they may have been formed when the universe was less than a billion years old

The team plans to obtain further observations in X-rays and the infrared to check whether these objects have more of the properties expected for Black Hole seeds.

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