A team of astronomers have discovered 83 “quasars”, extremely luminous active galactic nucleus powered by supermassive black holes in a distant universe. These are from a time when the universe was lesser than 10% of its current age.
Supermassive black holes become visible when gases accrete onto it and cause it to shine like a quasar. The massive Subaru Telescope located at the Mauna Kea Observatory on Hawaii was used by scientists from Japan, Taiwan and US to observe this. They focussed on objects located about 13 billion light-years away from Earth and found 83 new quasars at a huge distance. The finding increases the number of black holes known at that epoch considerably and reveals, for the first time, how common they are in the universe’s history.
Lead author Yoshiki Matsuoka from Ehime University in Japan said, “The quasars we discovered will be an interesting subject for follow-up observations with current and future facilities.”
“We will also learn about formation and early evolution of supermassive black holes, by comparing the measured number density and luminosity distribution with predictions from theoretical models,” added Matsuoka.
Co-author Michael Strauss, Professor at Princeton University stated, “It is remarkable that such massive dense objects were able to form so soon after the Big Bang… Understanding how black holes can form in the early universe, and just how common they are, is a challenge for our cosmological models.”
The research was published in The Astrophysical Journal and the Publications of the Astronomical Observatory of Japan.