A current research finds that scientists had discovered the oldest supermassive black hole ever seen that grew to 800 million times the volume of the sun when the universe was just 5% of its current age. The enormous black hole, which looked only 690 million years after the Big Bang, could one day help release light on a number of universal mysteries, such as how black holes could have reached gargantuan sizes immediately after the Big Bang and how the world got cleared of the dark fog that once filled the entire galaxy, the researchers stated in the latest study.
The earlier research proposed these titans deliver vast amounts of light when they shred apart stars and gorge matter, and likely are the driving force behind quasars, which are among the brightest objects in the cosmos. Astronomers can discover quasars from the faraway corners of the galaxy, creating quasars among the farthest objects known. The quasars are also the earliest known quasars the more distant one is, the more time its light took to reach Earth.
ULAS J1120+0641 set the previous record for the earliest, most distant quasar. Because quasars shine so brightly, we can spot farther ones. That is a kinda helpful trick, given that much of the universe’s first history is shrouded in the puzzle. A quasar, bright as it is, could scatter light on that crucial period of reionization.
The problem is that quasars are quite rare. Cosmologists expect there to be around 20 to 100 quasars of similar illumination and distance as J1342+0928. That makes finding a distant quasar, whose light has been stretched into longer, redder wavelengths by the accelerating expansion of the universe, an even more difficult task.
To find such objects, an astronomer would have to sift through a haystack of data, looking for the glint of a cosmic needle. That’s precisely what Bañados and his colleagues did, using computers to sort through reams of public data sets in search of the reddened signature of a distant quasar. Finally, he found J1342+0928. The scientists studied the hydrogen around the quasar and found that roughly half of it was still neutral and half of it had been ionized. That meant that the process of reionization, at least in this corner of the universe, was well underway at this point.
NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, set to launch in 2019, would also help probe these early years in the universe’s history.