Discovery of one of the oldest mergers of two supermassive black holes

Discovery of one of the oldest mergers of two supermassive black holes

These two giant black holes and their galaxies united just 740 million years after the Big Bang that formed the universe. This is the farthest-ever detection of a black hole merger, scientists reported Thursday.

One of the black holes is 50 million times larger than our Sun. The other is thought to be similar in size, but buried in dense gas, making it more difficult to measure.

Until now, astronomers didn't know exactly how supermassive black holes got to this size.

The latest results, published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, suggest that mergers lead to the rapid growth of black holes, “even at the dawn of the universe,” says lead author Hannah Opler of the University of Cambridge.

“Massive black holes have shaped the evolution of galaxies from the beginning,” Opler said in a statement.

to see | An unprecedented image of the supermassive black hole in our galaxy has been revealed

Webb was launched in 2021 as the successor to NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, the largest and most powerful observatory ever sent into space. It is a joint American-European project, where the infrared observatory studies the universe from a location one million kilometers from Earth.

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