Amazing discovery: Webb Telescope Detects Most Distant Active Supermassive Black Hole Ever Found
Article by: Andacs Robert Eugen, on 06 July 2023, at 07:45 am PDT
The James Webb Space Telescope has made a ground-breaking discovery, detecting the most distant active supermassive black hole to date. The black hole, located in the galaxy CEERS 1019, existed a mere 570 million years after the big bang, making it the earliest known black hole in the universe. Remarkably, this black hole is relatively small, weighing in at around 9 million solar masses. The James Webb Telescope's Cosmic Evolution Early Release Science (CEERS) Survey, led by Steven Finkelstein of the University of Texas at Austin, utilized detailed near- and mid-infrared images and spectra to make these extraordinary findings.
The discovery of CEERS 1019 is significant not only for its ancient existence but also for its relatively modest size compared to previously identified supermassive black holes. While larger black holes containing billions of solar masses are easier to detect due to their brightness, CEERS 1019's size is more akin to the black hole at the center of our Milky Way galaxy. Additionally, the black hole in CEERS 1019 is less luminous than its more massive counterparts. Its early formation, so soon after the universe's inception, poses intriguing questions about its origins.
The wealth of precise data obtained by the James Webb Telescope played a vital role in unraveling these discoveries. By analyzing the spectral lines and utilizing high-resolution imagery, the researchers could differentiate emissions from the black hole and its host galaxy. They were also able to determine the rate of gas ingestion by the black hole and assess the galaxy's star-formation activity.
The CEERS Survey has provided further insights into the early universe, as two additional smaller black holes were identified in galaxies CEERS 2782 and CEERS 746. These black holes, weighing approximately 10 million solar masses, were previously too faint to be detected by other telescopes. The sensitive spectra captured by the James Webb Telescope also allowed the team to measure precise distances and ages of galaxies that existed 470 to 675 million years after the big bang. These galaxies, still in the process of rapid star formation, offer valuable insights into the evolution of galaxies throughout cosmic history.
The extraordinary findings from the CEERS Survey represent just the beginning of what the James Webb Telescope can unveil about the early universe. With its unprecedented capabilities, the telescope holds the promise of revolutionizing our understanding of black hole formation and the evolution of galaxies during the universe's infancy. Several papers detailing the initial findings from the CEERS Survey have been accepted by The Astrophysical Journal Letters, solidifying the significance of these remarkable discoveries.