The supermassive black hole is 800 times the mass of our Sun, which makes astronomers question the conditions of the early universe. Image credit: Carnegie Institution for Science
An ancient relic has been recently uncovered from the early universe – the farthest known supermassive black hole, buried in the essence of a quasar; an enormous 800 million times the mass of the Sun, which is unexpectedly large for such a young object.
Quasars are incredibly bright and distant galaxies that accommodate a supermassive black hole at the centre continuously accreting mass. The light from this quasar comes from a period where the universe was just 690 million years old. On a cosmic scale, this is very soon after the Big Bang, as the universe was only five per cent its current age.
“This black hole grew far larger than we expected in only 690 million years after the Big Bang, which challenges our theories about how black holes form,” says Daniel Stern of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
To have such an unexpectedly large black hole so soon after the Big Bang, astronomers have speculated that there must have been some special conditions in this period to allow ...