Astrophysicists from the Niels Bohr Institute, the University of Copenhagen and the Technical University of Denmark have identified a distant object whose properties fall between those of a galaxy and a quasar. The discovery is attributed to the Hubble telescope. The newly discovered object was named GNz7q by the team and was born 750 million years after the Big Bang. It can be considered the ancestor of a supermassive black hole that was born relatively soon after the Big Bang during a period called the cosmic dawn.
This object could be considered the ancestor of a supermassive black hole born relatively soon after the Big Bang. Previous simulations have indicated that such objects would exist but this is the first actual sighting of such an object.
“The discovered object links two rare populations of celestial objects, namely dusty starbursts and bright quasars, and thus offers a new avenue for understanding the rapid growth of supermassive black holes in the early universe,” said said Seiji Fujimoto, a postdoctoral researcher based at the university. Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen, in a press release.
GNz7q’s host galaxy is an “intensely star-forming galaxy”, forming stars at a rate 1,600 times faster than our own galaxy. These stars create and heat cosmic dust, causing it to glow in the infrared so much that GNz7q’s host emits more luminous dust than any other known object of the period.
In recent years, light quasars have been found to be powered by supermassive black holes, with masses ranging from millions to tens of billions of solar masses, surrounded by vast amounts of gas. As the gas falls into the black hole, it heats up due to friction, which produces a glowing effect.
The research team behind the discovery now hopes to search for similar objects using dedicated high-resolution surveys that take advantage of the James Webb Space Telescope. Further research on these objects will help scientists better understand supermassive black holes.