Supermassive Black Holes – What They Consume to Become So Massive

Supermassive black holes have been an enigma for scientists ever since they have been discovered. What do black holes eat is the question. We already have evidence that indicates nearly every massive galaxies have a supermassive black hole located at the galaxy’s center.

“We are now able to demonstrate, for the first time, that primordial galaxies do have enough food in their environments to sustain both the growth of supermassive black holes and vigorous star formation,” lead researcher Emanuele Paolo Farina, of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg, Germany, said.

Researchers revealed new details about supermassive black holes

Scientists discovered how supermassive black holes grew so much in such a short time after the Bing Bang. “The presence of these early monsters, with masses several billion times the mass of our sun, is a big mystery,” added Farina.

Using the European Southern Observatory’s Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array, or ALMA, Farina and his team were able to see how the dust and gas helped the rapid growth of early supermassive black holes. With the use of this instrument, researchers captured several quasars that looked as they were when the universe was just 870 million years old.

These images reveal the dense hydrogen gas surrounding 12 of the 31 surveyed quasars and massive reservoirs of cold. Quasars are the brightest and most distant objects in the known universe, an extremely luminous active galactic nucleus, in which a gaseous accretion disk surrounds a supermassive black hole with mass ranging from millions to billions of times the mass of the Sun.

Next step into the Future

With the help of Extremely Large Telescope, which is currently under construction, scientists expect to image galaxies and quasars in the early universe in even more detail. “With the power of the ELT, we will be able to delve even deeper into the early Universe to find many more such gas nebulae,” Farina concluded.

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