They detect the most distant and oldest active supermassive black hole

The distant and oldest active supermassive black hole Gn Z
Photo: NASA, ESA, CSA, Robertson, Johnson, Tachella, Reich, and Eisenstein.

Using the James Webb Space Telescope, astrophysicists have found an explanation for the exceptional brightness of the galaxy GN-z11 when our universe was 430 million years old. The most distant and oldest active supermassive black hole yet discovered.

GN-z11 was spotted by the research team with the Webb telescope The first clear evidence that the galaxy hosts a black hole A central massive object that contains rapidly accreting matter. Its discovery makes it the most distant and oldest active supermassive black hole discovered to date Our 13.8 billion year old universeThe hole was born when it was only 430 million years old.

“We found very dense gas that is common nearby Supermassive black holes It accumulates gas,” explained principal investigator Roberto Maiolino of the University of Cambridge's Cavendish Laboratory and the Kavli Institute of Cosmology in a statement. “These are the first clear indications that GN-z11 hosts a black hole that is swallowing matter.”

Group using the web They also found traces of ionized chemical elements They are usually found near supermassive black holes. Additionally, they discovered that the galaxy is ejecting a very powerful wind. These high-velocity winds are driven by processes typically associated with supersonic black holes.

“Web's NIRCam (Near Infrared Camera) has exposed extended componentsIt is a small central source that tracks the host galaxy and matches the colors of the accretion disk around the black hole,” said researcher Hanna Übler from the Cavendish Observatory and the Kavli Institute.

In total, This evidence shows that GN-z11 hosts a supermassive black hole The material consumes two million solar masses in its most active phase, so it is very luminous.

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The second team, led by Maiolino, Webb's NIRSpec (near infrared spectrometer) was used to find a gas mass Helium in the halo around GN-z11.

“The fact that we see nothing but helium suggests that this group must be very old,” Maiolino said. “It's something Theory and simulations of waiting near galaxies These epochs are particularly massive: pockets of primitive gas must exist in the halo, and these can collapse to form Population III star clusters.

In Search of the Stars of Population III

Find the stars Population III, Until now invisible, the first generation of stars formed almost exclusively from hydrogen and helium is one of the most important objectives of modern astrophysics. These stars are expected to be very massive, very luminous and very hot. Its signature is ionized helium and the absence of chemical elements heavier than helium.

Creation The first stars and galaxies mark a fundamental turning point in cosmic historyThe universe evolved from a dark and relatively simple state to the highly structured and complex environment we see today.

Webb, Maiolino, Übler and their team hope to strengthen the case by investigating GN-z11 more deeply in future observations. Stars of Population III It can form in your halo.

Research on natural mass gas in the GN-z11 halo has been accepted for publication in Astronomy and Astrophysics. The results of the study of the GN-z11 black hole are published in the journal Nature on January 17, 2024. The data were obtained as part of the JWST Advanced Deep Extragalactic Survey (JADES), a joint project of the NIRCam and NIRSpec teams.

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