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Origins of Supermassive Black Holes --Formed 13 Billion Years Ago (Holiday Feature)




The first supermassive black holes were formed shortly after the "Big Bang". That is the conclusion reached by an international research group led in 2011 by Prof. Lucio Mayer from the University of Zurich. The supermassive black holes were formed through the collision of galaxies 13 billion years ago. The new findings are important in order to understand the origin of gravitation and cosmological structures.    

Lucio Mayer, Professor for Theoretical Physics at the University of Zurich, and his team were convinced that they discovered the origin of the first supermassive black holes, which came into being about 13 billion years ago, at the very beginning of the universe. In their article which has appeared in "Nature" magazine, Lucio Mayer and his colleagues described their computer simulations with which they modelled the formation of galaxies and black holes during the first billion years after the "Big Bang".
According to the current status of knowledge, the universe is approximately 14 billion years old. Recently, research groups discovered that galaxies formed much earlier than assumed until then - namely within the first billion years. The computer simulations from Mayer's team now show that the very first supermassive black holes came into existence when those early galaxies collided with each other and merged. 

For more than two decades, science has assumed that galaxies grow hierarchically, i.e. that initially, small masses are pulled together by gravitation, and from them, larger structures form step by step. The researchers at the University of Zurich have now turned that assumption upside down. 

"Our result shows that large structures such as galaxies and massive black holes formed quickly in the history of the universe," said Mayer. "At first glance, this seems to contradict the standard theory with cold dark material which describes the hierarchical building of galaxies." The apparent paradox is explicable according to Lucio Mayer: "Normal matter from which the visible parts of the galaxies and supermassive black holes are formed collapse more strongly than dark material forming quickly the most massive galaxies in the densest regions of the Universe, where gravity begins to form structures earlier than elsewhere. This enables the apparent non-hierarchical formation of galaxies and black holes."

Huge galaxies and supermassive black holes form quickly. Small galaxies - on the other hand, such as the Milky Way and its comparatively small black hole in the centre weighting only 1 million solar masses instead of the 1 billion solar masses of the black holes simulated by Mayer and colleagues - have formed more slowly. 

The galaxies in their simulation would count among the biggest known today in reality - they were around a hundred times larger than the Milky Way. A galaxy that probably arose from a collision in that way is our neighbouring galaxy M87 in the Virgo cluster, located at 54 million light years from us.

The scientists began their simulation with two large, primary galaxies comprised of stars and characteristic for the beginning of the universe. They then simulated the collision and the merging of galaxies. Thanks to the super-computer "Zbox3" at the University of Zurich and the "Brutus Cluster" from the ETHZ, the researchers were able to observe, at a resolution higher than ever before, what happened next: Initially, dust and condensed gases collected in the center of the new galaxy and formed a dense disk there. The disk became unstable, so that the gases and the dust contracted again and formed an even more dense region. From that, a supermassive black hole eventually came into existence without forming a star first.

The assumption that the characteristics of galaxies and the mass of the black hole are related to each other because they grow in parallel will have to be revised. In Mayer's model, the black hole grows much more quickly than the galaxy. It is therefore possible that the black hole is not regulated by the growth of the galaxy. It is far more possible that the galaxy is regulated by the growth of the black hole. 

Mayer and his colleagues believe that their research will also be useful for physicists who search for gravitational waves and thus want to supply direct proof of Einstein's theory of relativity. According to Einstein, who received his doctorate in 1906 at the University of Zurich, the merging of supermassive black holes must have caused massive gravitational waves - waves in a space-time continuum whose remains should still be measurable today.

More recently, using the deepest X-ray image ever taken, astronomers found the first direct evidence that massive black holes were common in the early universe. This discovery from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory shows that very young black holes grew more aggressively than previously thought, in tandem with the growth of their host galaxies. 

By pointing Chandra at a patch of sky for more than six weeks, astronomers obtained what is known as the Chandra Deep Field South (CDFS). When combined with very deep optical and infrared images from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, the new Chandra data allowed astronomers to search for black holes in 200 distant galaxies, from when the universe was between about 800 million to 950 million years old. 

"Until now, we had no idea what the black holes in these early galaxies were doing, or if they even existed,” said Ezequiel Treister of the University of Hawaii, lead author of the study appearing in the June 16 issue of the journal Nature. “Now we know they are there, and they are growing like gangbusters." 

The super-sized growth means that the black holes in the CDFS are less extreme versions of quasars -- very luminous, rare objects powered by material falling onto supermassive black holes. However, the sources in the CDFS are about a hundred times fainter and the black holes are about a thousand times less massive than the ones in quasars. 

The observations found that between 30 and 100 percent of the distant galaxies contain growing supermassive black holes. Extrapolating these results from the small observed field to the full sky, there are at least 30 million supermassive black holes in the early universe. This is a factor of 10,000 larger than the estimated number of quasars in the early universe. 

“It appears we've found a whole new population of baby black holes,” said co-author Kevin Schawinski of Yale University. “We think these babies will grow by a factor of about a hundred or a thousand, eventually becoming like the giant black holes we see today almost 13 billion years later.” 

A population of young black holes in the early universe had been predicted, but not yet observed. Detailed calculations show that the total amount of black hole growth observed by this team is about a hundred times higher than recent estimates. 

Because these black holes are nearly all enshrouded in thick clouds of gas and dust, optical telescopes frequently cannot detect them. However, the high energies of X-ray light can penetrate these veils, allowing the black holes inside to be studied. 

Physicists studying black holes want to know more how the first supermassive black holes were formed and how they grow. Although evidence for parallel growth of black holes and galaxies has been established at closer distances, the new Chandra results show that this connection starts earlier than previously thought, perhaps right from the origin of both. 

“Most astronomers think in the present-day universe, black holes and galaxies are somehow symbiotic in how they grow,” said Priya Natarajan, a co-author from Yale University. “We have shown that this codependent relationship has existed from very early times.”

The image below shows the evolution of a gas disk created by the collision of two identical protogalaxies, from the disk's formation (upper left) until the onset of central collapse (lower right). Brighter colors indicate regions of higher density. (Image courtesy L. Mayer et al.)



I hope someone can read this question.
Does anyone know of any cosmological model that has black holes forming before either stars or galaxies?

"Findings" are made inside computer simulation. Once great empirical science of cosmos degraded to this pathetic state... The computer model *assumes* that LCDM is correct. All in all, it's just a circus of speculation.

So, how did the matter produced by the Big Bang, not form black holes?

All the matter concentrated in a small area; should have created black holes,
just from the gravitational attraction of matter being formed.

Hmmm... I wonder if you had matter, black holes, matter, black holes.....etc,
being formed from the Big Bang and not just a steady stream of matter?

I mean it makes sense; with so much celestial matter being created, the
gravitational attraction alone, should have created black holes at the
same time.... from so must matter being concentrated.

The laws of physics would have require blacks hole to be formed at the same time.

At least in my web browser (an up-to-date copy of Firefox running on a Windows laptop) the right-hand edge of this blog article is cut off, so I have to guess some of the words.

Roman: The idea of using computers to predict the consequences of theories is nothing new, and not bad. In fact, it's essential as soon as we study physical systems that are too complex to be solved by pencil-and-paper calculations. One just needs to remember that if the theories are wrong, the computations likely are too. And of course this is true regardless of whether one uses a computer.

The term "findings" does not imply that what was found is correct.

Dr. Burke wrote: "So, how did the matter produced by the Big Bang, not form black holes?"

That's an interesting question. There's something called the "Jeans length": density fluctuations in a gas that are smaller than this size will not collapse gravitationally; instead, the pressure of the gas will tend to flatten out these fluctuations. The Jeans length depends on the pressure and density of the gas. There are also subtler effects like "Silk damping", which is a way for density fluctuations to get flattened out by emission of photons. People have done lots of calculations using these ideas, and they see that only when the pressure of the hot gas and radiation in the Universe dropped sufficiently would density fluctuations start to grow, leading eventually to the formation of galaxies and black holes.

There's a pretty good introduction to this here:

John, I'm not against computers ))))

I'm against science that is based on dogma, wishful thinking and ad hoc assertions. Halton Arp have found that redshifts have intrinsic value, but community just denied it. If we are fundamentally wrong about our universe we cannot reach any conclusion at this point about its origin, evolution, etc. And cosmology not only will be useless, but utterly irrelevant to us.

there`s no prove that those black holes are 13 billion years, they could very well have 30. Or could even be immortal. That BB theory began to smell worse and worse every day. Those black holes could be very well the remains of an earlier universe that existed before ours. They could act just like magnets for the forming galaxies....

yeah, i`m on Google Chrome and i have the same issue, text is cropped right...

Same text issue on winphone (internet explorer).

dr burke that makes perfect sense even with the velocities.
once again its people using guesswork as fact.

And the recent studies show the big bang was not the start, at least thats what i read here about the background radiation they discovered.

Sometimes i think we need to include all previous possibilities to answer current questions. Taking only one option and using it as a base is always going to be highly innacurate and my eyes its very unscientific and is holding us back in a big way.

Einstiens theories are one that grates on me, to this very day they are treated as the basis for future study, treated as a factual working model. even though einstien himself said they were flawed and made no sense.

Stellar black holes form, by definition, from stars.
Supermassive black holes form from bigger structures, so I don't think it is possible for black holes to form before stars or galaxies.

how about this: the black holes are not made of collapsed matter but made of antimatter.

- There is no asymmetry, never was, is about same amount of staff into black holes as in the stars planets and interstellar gas, about 100bilion solar masses in milky-way supermasive black hole, about 100 billion stars in milky-way(sun size median mass).

- perhaps the antimatter grouped faster than matter, forming black holes long time before the stars were even created. That would better explain the missing time for the matter to group into stars and then collapse into black holes.

- When mater and antimatter collapse they annihilate each other and release photons and what's why we see black holes releasing microwave jets only when they `feed` on matter. The black holes don't grow in mass when they feed but they loose mass, both and antimatter disappear and galaxy stay in balance, otherwise it will continuously grow in mass and consume the galaxy completely.

-Dark matter concept is required considering the black hole is made of mater, how about if is made of antimatter. So far been considered that antimatter will obey the same lows of physics as matter except for the opposite charge. But how can we be so sure that will obey all current lows when all our physics are based on observations made in the matter world. Perhaps a antimatter world would never form and just gather in big gulps such as black holes. We are just starting to study the properties of the anti-hidrogen but in the universe we live from one hidrogen atom scale to all types of atoms to molecules to biology to human is a big distance and in between huge complexity, variations and natural laws. What we know about anti-matter, not much.

Black hole made of antimatter, how about it?
Prove me I'm wrong:

The supermassive black holes were formed through the collision of galaxies 13 billion years ago. The new findings are important in order to understand the origin of gravitation and cosmological structures.

hi! great article. I need to know the name of the author. Who wrote this? because I need to cite and give credit. thanks!

The answer to the question "Can Anyone know of any cosmological model that has black hole forming before either stars and galaxies?" is definite "Yes!"
Please look for the paper: "Paul K. Suh, Quantum Cosmology explains the general Galaxy-black holes correlation. Int. J.
of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Volume 2, # 2, 101-112 (2012)"
You can also find the referral in the paper for the paper about what are dark matter and energy really are.
As you know, the conventional theories tell you the black
holes and galaxies took a few billions of years to form, and
ignored the paper. I am glad the truth is forthcoming.

Here's one I made earlier ?.the article is almost suggesting there were plenty of galaxies to feed on which flies in the face the amount of galaxies predicted to exist at this primordial time in the universes existence.bearing in mind that our universe came into existence due to negative repulsive gravity.surely there must have been something to be repulsed from,oh I forgot after the bb there was the re-ionisation period,how remiss of me.

Whether a BH is made of matter or antimatter is irrelevant to its properties as seen outside of the event horizon. Assume that it is made primarily of antimatter. The antimatter would be decomposed well before hitting the singularity. By the no hair theorem such an antimatter black hole would look just like a matter-based one. Or one that was symmetrical as to the matter/antimatter composition. Look at the fully symmetrical case. Even if all the matter/antimatter sucked past the EH annihilated each other before hitting the singularity then the resultant energy released in the form of photons would hit the singularity (at least classically). Momentum would be conserved in the annihilation, so it would look just like a BH that fed on matter alone or energy alone. Anyhow, the one interesting point made was the proposal for the antisymetric abundance of matter as opposed to antimatter. The 2 problems with that however is that even if there was a mechanism for primordial antimatter to form primordial BHs early after the big bang, (1) current theories of how supermassive BHs are formed put them as growing slowly with the galaxies that house them; this is on a timescale well after the matter/antimatter asymmetry was expected to have completed, and (2) antimatter should act gravitometrically identically to normal matter, suggesting an absence of even primordial BHs as a cause of the asymmetry. If I missed something please point it out. Aaron Kaufman

Absolutely fascinating article, I came across this earlier today. Thank you for sharing the post, it was very illuminating.

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