View Full Version : Huge black holes formed early

2004-Nov-22, 06:45 PM
Huge Black Holes Formed Quickly After Big Bang (http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/blackhole_quick_041122.html)

Incredibly massive black holes had fully matured just a billion years after the birth of the universe, according to two separate studies.

Scientists already had strong evidence that black holes grew to gargantuan heft early in the universe. Several have been found to pack the mass of hundreds of millions of Suns or more. But now scientists are pushing the limit of how far back in time they spot such objects and improving the firmness of their measurements.

In a study announced today, a black hole catalogued as SDSSp J1306 appears to be about one billion times as massive as the Sun. It is 12.7 billion light-years away, meaning the light just recorded -- by NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory -- took 12.7 billion years to reach the vicinity of Earth.

The universe is thought to be 13.7 billion years old.

A similarly massive and distant black hole was studied recently with the European Space Agency's XMM-Newton X-ray satellite. The object, SDSSp J1030, is 12.8 billion light-years away.

2004-Nov-22, 08:32 PM
I find it interesting that scientists are surprised by this discovery. I guess I just assumed that the force of the "BB" would have compressed early hydrogen and created some huge ones in the billion SM weight class.

That or I totally miss the point of inflation phase quantum physics. :roll: :D :lol:

(edited to change expansion to inflation. My bad)

2004-Nov-22, 09:09 PM
I find it interesting that scientists are surprised by this discovery. I guess I just assumed that the force of the "BB" would have compressed early hydrogen and created some huge ones in the billion SM weight class.

That or I totally miss the point of expanssion phase quantum physics. :roll: :D :lol:

What may be most surprising is not just the early existence of supermassive black holes, but trying to fit that with what we thought we knew about how they relate to galaxies. In today's universe, there is a pretty good correlation between the mass in stars in the central region (mostly the bulge) of a galaxy and the mass of the central black hole. This is largely from spectra taken with STIS on board Hubble; our own galaxy is a bit of an underachiever in this respect. This could either mean that the black holes came first and surrounded themselves with a fairly standard ratio of matter to make stars, or that the black hole grew with the surrounding galaxy. Simulating the latter case shows that indeed you expect the black hole to grow until roughly the right amount (0.5%, although the simulations get more like 1%) of material is in the black hole. After that, its own gravity modified the orbits of stars so that the rate at which they get eaten drops off sharply unless the galaxy's mass distribution is disturbed.

So now we know that this can't be the whole story, and are left with the very interesting question of what else could jump-start the growth of the black holes. As well as why we see such a fairly neat correlation between the galaxies and their central black holes at the present epoch.

Manchurian Taikonaut
2005-Feb-05, 09:16 AM
big talk in September

The XMM-Newton Science Operations Centre is organizing a major astrophysical symposium from 26 Monday to 30 Friday September 2005 in San Lorenzo de El Escorial, a small town in the mountains some 50 kilometres northwest of Madrid.

XMM-Newton and Chandra space observatories have now been operating for half a decade and are continuing to provide superb data ...

..."The X-ray Universe 2005" symposium is intended to encompass a broad range of high energy astrophysics topics, to provide a showcase for results and discoveries from current and near-future missions and a forum for the discussion of astrophysical themes with a high-energy connection.

The Symposium is scheduled to last for 5 days and will embrace the wide range of astrophysics in which XMM-Newton, Chandra and other missions are making important advances.

XMM-Newton is a three-axis stabilised spacecraft with a pointing accuracy of one arcsec. Launch mass is 3.8 tonnes. The satellite is made up of: a service module bearing the X-ray Mirror Modules, propulsion and electrical systems, a long telescope tube and the focal plane assembly carrying the science instruments. Total length is 10 metres, and when its solar arrays are deployed, the satellite has a 16 metres span.


X-rays are the signatures of the high-energy Universe. Any object heated to more than a million degrees Celsius will begin to give off significant quantities of X-rays. As the gas spirals through the strong gravitational field of the neutron star, creating a surrounding disc, it heats up enormously and starts sending X-rays into space. Some X-ray sources are even more intense and astronomers think that these are systems in which a black hole, with its even stronger gravitational field, is replacing the neutron star. XMMNewton is sensitive enough to detect the X-rays coming from the atmospheres of normal stars. It can also clearly see the X-rays coming from the gas in clusters of galaxies, making it an excellent tool with which to search for distant, as yet undiscovered, galaxy clusters.

and of course there was the Chandra story mentioned earlier by other posters , the Chandra found two monster cosmic clouds could hold the solution to the mystery of the missing matter —immense amounts of celestial stuff that somehow has eluded detection.