Oldest Black Hole Spotted!

According to Xinhua News Agency, the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom recently announced that an international team of researchers led by the university has observed a black hole dating back to about 400 million years after the Big Bang, using the James Webb Space Telescope. The black hole’s mass is millions of times that of the Sun. This discovery presents a challenge to existing black hole theories, as it suggests the existence of such a massive black hole in the early stages of the universe’s formation.

The announcement states that the host galaxy of this black hole is known as GN-z11, a compact galaxy approximately one percent the size of the Milky Way. This ancient black hole is vigorously consuming its host galaxy. When surrounding matter falls into the black hole, a portion of it is ejected outward at high speeds. This high-speed outflow clears the surrounding gas and suppresses the formation of stars and the development of the host galaxy. As the black hole consumes surrounding gas, it also forms a swirling accretion disk, and astronomers detect the black hole through the intense light emitted by this accretion disk.

According to the standard model of the universe, supermassive black holes are formed from the remnants of dead stars. These stars, after collapsing, may form a black hole with a mass approximately 100 times that of the Sun. If it were to grow as expected by the model, this newly discovered ancient black hole would require about a billion years to reach the scale observed by the Webb telescope. However, observations indicate that this black hole existed when the universe was less than a billion years old.

The announcement indicates that the size of this newly discovered black hole suggests that it may have formed in a different manner, either being “born big” or consuming matter at a rate several times higher than previously assumed.

The related paper has been published in the journal “Nature” in the UK. Roberto Maiolino, the lead author of the paper and a professor at the Cavendish Laboratory at the University of Cambridge, stated that this discovery was made possible by the “enormous leap in sensitivity” of the Webb Space Telescope, particularly in the field of infrared observations. This means that it may be possible to observe even older black holes in the future. The research contributes to a deeper understanding of the various ways in which black holes may form.

Source: Xinhua News Agency

Editor: Guli

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