Massive Black Holes are quite common in the Universe

Massive Black Holes are quite common in the Universe

Massive Black Holes are quite common in the Universe
Image Credits: Phys.org

An international team of researchers detected the light from around the first massive black holes in the universe to challenge the long-accepted theory about massive black hole formation.

Despite being confident about their existence, scientists have been unable to discover the source of these ancient black holes (quasars). In order to find a solution for this cosmic riddle, researchers from different institutions, including the San Diego Supercomputer Center, IBM, and Georgia Institute of Technology, joined forces and it seems that their efforts might have led to something substantial. They showed that the galaxies that merge into each other violently can initiate the formation of very massive black holes, which are quite common in our universe. They further explained that the process of star formation is disrupted in such galaxies as black hole formation takes over.

Formation of Massive Black Holes

According to the latest study, these humungous black holes are formed in dense starless regions. This claim is a complete opposite of what we have been believing for years. Prior to this research, the formation of black holes was limited to those regions which were bombarded by the powerful radiation of the neighboring galaxies. On the basis of this new theory, the study also suggested that these massive black holes are much more common than our previous estimates.

The rapid growth of pre-galactic gas clouds in the early years of the universe is the key criterion for determining the source of these massive black holes. John Wise, an Associate Professor in the Center for Relativistic Astrophysics at Georgia Tech who is a Corresponding Author of the study, explained that this newly-discovered scenario indicates that all these black holes have a common origin. He elaborated that the early rapid growth of dark matter halos would have led to all these mysterious holes as they halted the formation of stars. He said,

“In this study, we have uncovered a totally new mechanism that sparks the formation of massive black holes in particular dark matter halos. Instead of just considering radiation, we need to look at how quickly the halos grow. We don’t need that much physics to understand it — just how the dark matter is distributed and how gravity will affect that. Forming a massive black hole requires being in a rare region with an intense convergence of matter.”

Previous Paradigm about Massive Black Holes

John Regan, a Research Fellow at the Center for Astrophysics and Relativity in Dublin City University, accepted that the initial results of their simulations were quite surprising for them. The previous paradigm, which they have been believing for years, was that massive black holes could only form when exposed to high levels of Ultraviolet (UV) radiation. He told the world about their findings in the following words:

“Previous theories suggested this should only happen when the sites were exposed to high levels of star-formation killing radiation. As we delved deeper, we saw that these sites were undergoing a period of extremely rapid growth. That was the key. The violent and turbulent nature of the rapid assembly, the violent crashing together of the galaxy’s foundations during the galaxy’s birth prevented normal star formation and led to perfect conditions for black hole formation instead. This research shifts the previous paradigm and opens up a whole new area of research.”

Michael Norman, the Director of the San Diego Supercomputer Center, also acknowledged that the effect of UV radiation is surely there but it is not a dominating factor, at least as far as their work is concerned.

Renaissance Simulation Suite

“Astronomers observe supermassive black holes that have grown to a billion solar masses in 800 million years. Doing that required an intense convergence of mass in that region. You would expect that in regions where galaxies were forming at very early times.”

Future Goals

Researchers believe that these simulations will allow them to observe the lifecycle of these galaxies and the evolution of the first massive black holes across time. Regan talked about that and said,

“Our next goal is to probe the further evolution of these exotic objects. Where are these black holes today? Can we detect evidence of them in the local universe or with gravitational waves?”

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