Baby quasar: a growing supermassive black hole

Giant quasar and little red dots. A n EIGER JWST image of the luminous quasar J1148+5251, an
extremely rare active SMBH of 10 billion solar masses (blue box). Two “baby quasars” (red boxes) are
seen in the same dataset. © NASA, ESA, CSA, J. Matthee (ISTA), R. Mackenzie (ETH Zurich), D. Kashino (National Observatory of Japan), S. Lilly (ETH Zurich)

Baby quasar: a growing supermassive black hole James Webb Space Telescope discovers tiny giant in the distant past The James Webb Space Telescope makes one of his most unexpected discoveries in its first year of operation. A large number of faint, tiny red dots in the distant universe could change our understanding of how supermassive black holes form. The study, led by Jorit Massey, assistant professor of astrophysics at the Austrian Institute of Science and Technology (ISTA), was published in the Astrophysical Journal. Given the age of the universe in which quasars were observed, they seem overly massive. We call them “problematic quasars,” says Massey. “Given that quasars form from the explosion of massive stars and we know their maximum growth rate from the general laws of physics, it appears that some of them grew as fast as possible.” It’s like looking at a 6-foot-tall five-year-old. “Something just doesn’t add up,” he explains. Could small businesses be growing even faster than we originally thought, or are they shaping up differently? A smaller version of a giant space monster Matthee and his colleagues identified clusters of objects that appear as small red dots in JWST images. It also shows that although these objects are small, they are not overly massive. The key to determining that these objects were her SMBH was the detection of Hα spectral emission lines with broad line profiles. Hα lines are spectral lines in the deep red range of visible light that are emitted when hydrogen atoms are heated. The width of the spectrum reflects the movement of the gas. “The wider the Hα line, the higher the gas velocity.” “So these spectra show that we’re dealing with a very small cloud of gas that’s moving very fast and orbiting something very large, like an SMBH,” Massey said. says. However, the little red dot isn’t the giant space monster seen in the big she SMBH. “‘Problematic quasars’ are blue, extremely bright, and reach billions of times the mass of the Sun, while the small red dots resemble ‘baby quasars’. Their masses range from 10 million to 100 million Suns.” It also appears red because it has dirt on it. “The dust covers the black hole, making it red in color,” Massey says. But at some point, the outflow of gas from the black hole will break through the dust cocoon, and giants will emerge from these tiny red dots. The ISTA astrophysicist and his team therefore suspect that the tiny red dot is a tiny red version of the giant blue SMBH, which predates the quasar in question. “By studying the baby version of the too-massive SMBH in more detail, we will be able to better understand how problematic quasars form.”

“Breakthrough” technology Matthee and his team were able to find small quasars thanks to datasets from his EIGER (Reionization Era Emission Line Galaxies and Intergalactic Gas) and his FRESCO (First Reionization Era Spectroscopic Complete Observations) collaborations. is completed. These are his large and medium JWST programs that Matthee has participated in. Last December, Physics World magazine named Eiger among its top 10 breakthroughs of 2023, saying, “Eiger was designed specifically to study rare blue supermassive quasars and their environment.” It is not designed to find small red dots. But I discovered them by chance within the same dataset. “This is because EIGER uses her JWST’s near-infrared camera to record the emission spectra of every object in the universe,” he says. “If we hold up our index finger and extend our arm fully, the area of ​​the night sky we explore is about 1/20th the surface area of ​​a fingernail.” So far, we’ve probably only scratched the surface. ” Massey believes this research opens up many possibilities and will help answer some of the big questions about the universe. “The black hole and his SMBH may be the most interesting thing in the universe.” It’s hard to explain why they’re there, but they’re there. “We hope this research will help solve one of the universe’s greatest mysteries,” he concluded.