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Investigating Black Hole Formation

15 Aug 2020, 15:00 UTC
Investigating Black Hole Formation
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Dwarf galaxies are believed by some to be time capsules, but instead of old records, they are thought to preserve the seeds of black holes formed in the early Universe. This is because most dwarf galaxies detected in the nearby Universe don’t show signs of interacting with their galactic neighbours, leaving these relatively low mass collections of gas, dust and stars to evolve in isolation. Without contamination from other galaxies, astronomers can treat these dwarf galaxies as pristine pockets of the Universe’s past. So by analysing the distribution and masses of the black holes in these dwarf galaxies astronomers can hope to shed some light on how they formed. Two formation mechanisms dominate discussion: either black holes formed from the collapse of early generations of stars, known as Pop III’s, or they formed from the direct collapse of gas and dust. If the former mechanism dominates then we would expect to find large numbers of low mass black holes, while the latter mechanism is predicted to produce a much smaller number of higher mass seeds. Unfortunately, dwarf galaxies are much fainter than their higher-mass counterparts so are difficult to detect. The often-invisible black holes within provide an even greater challenge.An ...

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