Astronomers tracked down the large quasar J1007+2115. Plus they gave it its Hawaiian name. We can see it as it existed in the Universe when the Universe was just 700 million years.
Monsters hide in the depths of the Universe. Now, astronomers have brought one of these monsters into the light. Giant and dangerous. A large quasar – the largest we know from the young Universe. Its mass is roughly 1.5 billion Suns. Its formal name is J1007+2115 but it also got a name in the Hawaiian language – Pōniuāʻena.
A key role in discovering the quasar was played by telescopes on the Hawaiian volcano Mauna Kea. This connection to Hawaii is why the quasar got a Hawaiian name. Pōniuāʻena means – unseen spinning source of creation, surrounded with brilliance”. The name was created at a workshop for teachers which contributes to the naming of objects in space.
According to most popular theories, quasars are black-hole engines inside of active galactic cores ran by the ever-hungry supermassive black hole at the very center. As the supermassive black holes consume matter it radiates out insane amounts of energy. Thus, it is capable of outshining a whole galaxy filled with stars.
The supermassive black hole at the heart of the Pōniuāʻena quasar seems to be the furthest and thus oldest known object with a mass over 1 billion Suns. According to new research conducted by Jinyi Yang from the Steward Observatory at the University of Arizona, this quasar is roughly 13 billion light-years away from us. If that truly is the case, then it was created at a time when the Universe was only 700 million years old.
For those of you who read up on astronomy and physics often, this may sound strange. According to our theories about the early Universe and the evolution of black holes, this quasar is simply too large to have been created this early in the Universe's lifespan. The authors of the study say that the Pōniuāʻena quasar is so large and old that it seems to destroy our cosmological models and ideas about how black holes grow.
Yet, unless the researchers calculated something wrong, it exists. The researchers say that there might be an explanation. The quasar could have started its career as a black hole with a mass of 10 thousand Suns which existed just 100 million years after the Big Bang. Observing such a large quasar that exists deep in the Reionization era provides us with a useful “lighthouse” that could explain a lot about how the Universe worked back then.
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