A new window into the universe’s past opens: James Webb discovers dozens of ancient quasars

James Webb Space Telescope observations reveal secrets of how black holes formed in the early universe James’ Webb Space Telescope is helping to understand the early evolution of black holes in the Universe. Recent research using observations from this space telescope has discovered dozens of young quasars that formed during the first billion years of the universe’s existence. Quasars, supermassive black holes, have massive masses reaching millions or even billions of solar masses. They can promote star formation and influence the evolution of galaxies. Almost all galaxies have supermassive black holes. One important aspect of the research was to study the brightness and size of black holes. Of particular interest to scientists are very distant quasars that currently appear faint to us. Using data from multiple sky surveys, the research team identified 350 small galaxies with redshifts greater than z=6. By studying objects with redshifts greater than z = 6, scientists can study the early stages of cosmic evolution, when the universe was young and just beginning to form. These objects are of particular interest because they help expand our understanding of the evolution of galaxies and supermassive black holes. They formed when the universe was less than a billion years old. Of these 350 galaxies, 64 became quasars. This indicates the existence of an active supermassive black hole. Scientists determined the black hole’s mass and its age by comparing its luminosity and redshift. Although the sample of 64 galaxies was small, it was large enough to run simulations that helped determine how these black holes evolved. Researchers found that early supermassive black holes were larger than galaxies, with masses up to 10 million solar masses, whereas galaxies have masses of only a few billion suns. This ratio is higher than that in the local universe, suggesting that black holes form early enough when galaxies are small, rather than when they are growing and evolving. This supports the model of direct collapse of supermassive black holes, rather than growth through the merger of smaller black holes. The authors note that their data is subject to observational bias. Observation limitations make it more likely that a brighter and therefore more massive initial black hole will be visible. But a new, deeper survey of the sky will provide more data and examine the nascent black hole in more detail. Only a few dozen early supermassive black holes are currently known, but once they reach the hundreds, scientists will be able to better understand the diversity of galactic black hole sources. Sho.