Super Massive Black Hole Even More Enormous Than Expected

Astronomers say this discovery adds evidence that black holes prevent star formation


In the heart of an ancient galaxy far, far away lies an immense black hole that's a startling five times larger than scientists initially estimated, researchers have revealed in a new study.

Using the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), a team of researchers at the University ofEdinburgh discovered the actual immensity of one of the most distant black holes to have ever been observed, notes the study, published this week in the journal Nature.

The black hole — which is 25 billion light-years away from Earth in galaxy GS-9209, which was discovered in 2004 — contained more stars than expected for one of this size.

“The evidence we see for the supermassive black hole was really unexpected,” Dr. Adam Carnall, the researcher who led the effort, told the Guardian. “This is the kind of detail we’d never have been able to see without JWST.”

Carnall said that seeing a black hole of this size at the center of a galaxy was compelling evidence for the theory that black holes prevent star formation in early galaxies.

GS-9209 contains nearly as many stars as humans' home galaxy — with a combined mass equal to 40 billion suns — but is only one-tenth the size of the Milky Way.

Yet the black hole has suppressed the formation of new stars, according to the scientists. The researchers said GS-9209 is the oldest known example of a galaxy that has stopped forming stars.

Super massive black holes can stop star formation because their growth releases huge amounts of high-energy radiation, which can heat and blow gas out of galaxies, the study explains. Galaxies need huge clouds of gas and dust to collapse under their own gravity, thus forming new stars.

"The massive size of the black hole "means that it must have been very active in the past .... that it would have glowed so intensely as a quasar,” Carnall said.

“All that energy from the black hole at the center of the galaxy would have disrupted the entire galaxy, seriously, preventing the gas from collapsing to form new stars," he added.

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