Fortunately for us, some of the brightest minds of humanity managed to create the necessary tools for providing us real images from the depths of the Cosmos. And the more we look into deep space, the more we actually look back in time. This phenomenon happens because of the time needed for light to travel among the Cosmos.
An international team of astronomers led by Dr. Emanuele Paolo Farina of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy (MPIA) and the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics (MPA), recently found huge reservoirs of cool hydrogen gas that could have nurtured supermassive black holes from the beginning of the Cosmos. They spotted these structures while observing galaxies 12.5 billion light-years away with the ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) from Chile. Of course, this also means that they were looking 12.5 billion years back in time, when the Universe was only 1.2 billion years old.
Why did SMBHs grow so fast in the early Universe?
Astronomers recently found out that supermassive black holes (SMBHs) existed shortly after the Big Bang, and they couldn’t explain how did they form. Very little time had passed for any star to explode, so that black holes can appear. However, the results obtained by Paolo Farina’s team are shedding some light on the mystery.
Therefore, the astronomers relied on data provided by the VLT’s Multi Unit Spectroscopic Explorer (MUSE) in order to survey 31 quasars. Thus the researchers found 12 extended and very dense hydrogen clouds. The clouds of cool and dense hydrogen formed halos around the first galaxies born into the Universe, and they extended for 100,000 light-years from the black holes existing in the center.
Alyssa Drake, one of the researchers involved in the study, stated:
With the current studies, we are only just beginning to investigate how the first supermassive black holes were able to develop so rapidly. But new instruments like MUSE and the future James Webb Space Telescope are helping us to solve these exciting puzzles.
The study has been published in The Astrophysical Journal.