One of the peculiarities of the discovery announced this Thursday by astronomers from the European Southern Observatory (ESO) is linked to the timing of the event. This is the first time that so soon after the Big Bang, scientists have observed a cluster of galaxies near a supermassive black hole. On the flip side, scientists have managed to examine some of the weakest galaxies ever observed. The work, says a press release on the discovery made using the Very Large Telescope (VLT), gives new clues to these incredible objects and strengthens “the theory that black holes can grow rapidly in enormous web-shaped structures, feeding on the enormous quantities of gas that exist there ”.
“We did this work with the goal of better understanding one of the most difficult astronomical objects: the supermassive black holes of the early Universe. These black holes are quite extreme systems and to date we have no convincing explanation for their existence, ”says Marco Mignoli, astronomer at the Italian National Institute of Astrophysics (INAF) in Bologna, Italy, and author main of an article published on this subject. Thursday in Astronomy & Astrophysics Letters, quoted in an ESO press release.
Black holes are extraordinarily dense entities and many of them form when stars (larger than our Sun) collapse at the end of their life cycle. Supermassive black holes (like the one in the center of our Milky Way) are the largest there is, devouring matter and radiation and thought to be the result of merging with other black holes.
Scientists now report that observations with the VLT “have revealed several galaxies around a supermassive black hole, all located in the cosmic gas” spider web “which stretches through space for a dimension of approximately 300 times the size of the Milky Way ”. “The strands of the cosmic web are like the threads of a spider’s web. The galaxies stay and develop where the filaments cross and gas flows – available to feed both the galaxies and the central supermassive black hole – run alongside the filaments, ”explains Marco Mignoli.
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The radiation emitted by the huge captured web has now traveled to us since the time when the Universe was only 0.9 billion years old. “Our work has placed an important piece in the puzzle, which is still very incomplete, which is the formation and growth of these objects. [buracos negros supermaciços], so extreme but relatively abundant, so quickly after the Big Bang, ”said co-author Roberto Gilli, also an astronomer at INAF Bologna, in the same press release.
Astronomers believe that the enormous cosmic gas network and surrounding galaxies contain enough energy to “power” a black hole and allow it to become a supermassive giant in no time. However, going a little further, how did these paintings come about? “Astronomers believe the giant halos of mysterious dark matter are the key. These immense regions of invisible matter are believed to draw enormous amounts of gas into the early Universe; together, gas and invisible dark matter form these web-like structures, where galaxies and black holes can grow, ”the ESO document responds.
The powerful observation instruments currently available have made it possible to go further and more clearly to detect structures hitherto hidden from astronomers. The captured galaxies are some of the finest ever. And a total of six have been detected, and the team has confirmed the connection between four and the black hole. “We think we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg and believe the few galaxies we’ve discovered so far around this supermassive black hole are just the brightest,” commented co-author Barbara Balmaverde , INAF astronomer in Turin, Italy.