The James Webb Telescope captures an even more distant active supermassive black hole

The James Webb Space Telescope has given scientists the ability to detect celestial objects such as ancient galaxies that theoretically should not exist. Now, as part of the Cosmic Evolution Early Release Science (CEERS) survey, researchers was discovered The most distant active supermassive black hole we’ve seen to date.

Thanks to near- and mid-infrared images taken by James Webb, researchers were able to find a supermassive black hole in the galaxy, which they named CEERS 1019. They were also able to find that the black hole existed for just 570 million years. After the Big Bang it was about 9 million solar masses. In addition, the data provided by the telescope allowed us to conclude that the black hole eats a lot of gas and ejects new stars. „A galactic merger could be partially responsible for triggering the black hole activity of this galaxy, and this could lead to an increase in star formation,” explained CEERS team member Jayhan Kurtaldeb of the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York. In the image below, CEERS 1019 can be seen as three bright clusters.

NASA, ESA, CSA, Leah Hustak (STScI)

At 9 million solar masses, this black hole is much smaller than other active supermassive black holes previously discovered. Those celestial objects typically have a mass greater than 1 billion times that of the Sun, which makes them much brighter and easier to detect. The CEERS 1019 black hole is very similar to the black hole at the center of our galaxy, which has a mass of 4.6 million times that of the Sun. Scientists have long known that small black holes must already exist in the universe, but NASA said it was only after James Webb began working on them that they were able to confirm their existence.

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In fact, the CEERS team also found two ancient but smaller black holes through their data. The CEERS 746 black hole is 1 billion years after the Big Bang, while CEERS 2782 is 1.1 billion years after the black hole event. Seen with other instruments, these black holes appear to be ordinary star-forming galaxies. Astronomers are also currently reviewing other distant black holes discovered using James Webb’s data, so CEERS 1019 may soon lose the record.

The CEERS team is led by Steven Finkelstein from the University of Texas at Austin said: „Until now, research into objects in the early universe has been mostly theoretical. With the WEB, we can’t see black holes and galaxies at extreme distances, and now we can begin to measure them precisely. That’s the tremendous power of this telescope.”

Scientists still struggle to explain how this black hole formed after the universe began. But in the future, Webb’s data may give them the information they need to figure out how early black holes formed.

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