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Picture of the Day

Birth of massive black holes in the early universe revealed

The light released from around the first massive black holes in the universe is so intense that it is able to reach telescopes across the entire expanse of the universe. Incredibly, the light from the most distant black holes (or quasars) has been traveling to us for more than 13 billion light-years. However, we do not know how these monster black holes formed. New research provides a new and extremely promising avenue for solving this cosmic riddle. The research team showed that when galaxies assemble extremely rapidly -- and sometimes violently -- that can lead to the formation of very massive black holes. In these rare galaxies, normal star formation is disrupted and black hole formation takes over. The new study finds that massive black holes form in dense starless regions that are growing rapidly, turning upside down the long-accepted belief that massive black hole formation was limited to regions bombarded by the powerful radiation of nearby galaxies. Conclusions of the simulation-based study also find that massive black holes are much more common in the universe than previously thought.

Visit Website | Image credit: John Wise/Georgia Institute of Technology