Supermassive black holes are so common that almost every major galaxy has one. However, their formation remains a mystery to scientists, several of these objects were found when the universe was very young.

Because it takes so long for the light from these sources to reach us, we see them as they were in the past. In a new study, astronomers have reported a new type of primordial black hole in one of the most extreme galaxies known in the very early universe. This fast-growing black hole was discovered using the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA), a radio observatory in Chile, in the galaxy COS-87259.

The scientists found that the galaxy COS-87259, which harbors this new supermassive black hole, is quite extreme, generating stars at a rate 1,000 times faster than our own Milky Way and trapping more than a billion solar masses of interstellar dust. The galaxy’s rapid burst of star formation and the expanding supermassive black hole at its center contribute to its brightness.

Discovered by astronomers at the University of Texas and the University of Arizona, the black hole is heavily encased in cosmic “dust,” emitting almost all of its light in the mid-infrared range of the electromagnetic spectrum. It also generated a strong jet of material moving through the host galaxy at near-light speed.

Scientists noted, “What’s particularly astonishing about this new object is that it was identified over a relatively small patch of sky typically used to detect similar objects – less than ten times the size of the full moon – suggesting that there are thousands of similar sources could be in space. very early universe. This was totally unexpected based on previous data.”

The unexpected find of COS-87259 and its black hole raises many questions about the prevalence of very early supermassive black holes and the types of galaxies they generally emerge.

Ryan Endsley, the paper’s lead author and now a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Texas at Austin, says: “These results suggest that very early supermassive black holes were often heavily obscured by dust, perhaps due to the intense star-forming activity in their host galaxies. This is something others have been predicting for a few years now, and it’s nice to see the first direct observations support this scenario.”

“While no one expected to find these kinds of objects in the very early Universe, their discovery is a step toward a much better understanding of how billions of solar-mass black holes could form so early in the universe’s life. how the most massive galaxies first evolved.”

Magazine reference:

  1. Ryan Endsley, Daniel Stark, et al. ALMA confirmation of an eclipsed hyperluminous radio-loud AGN at z = 6,853 associated with a dusty starburst in the 1.5 deg2 COSMOS field. Monthly communications from the Royal Astronomical Society. DOI: 10.1093/mnras/stad266