Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

All-You-Can-Eat at the End of the Universe

12.08.2014

A new model shows how early black holes could have grown to over a billion solar masses

At the ends of the Universe there are black holes with masses equaling billions of our sun. These giant bodies – quasars – feed on interstellar gas, swallowing large quantities of it non-stop.


A small black hole gains mass: Dense cold gas (green) flows toward the center of a stellar cluster (red cross in blue circle) with stars (yellow); the erratic path of the black hole through the gas (black line) is randomized by the surrounding stars

Thus they reveal their existence: The light that is emitted by the gas as it is sucked in and crushed by the black hole's gravity travels for eons across the Universe until it reaches our telescopes.

Looking at the edges of the Universe is therefore looking into the past. These far-off, ancient quasars appear to us in their “baby photos” taken less than a billion years after the Big Bang: monstrous infants in a young Universe.

Normally, a black hole forms when a massive star, weighing tens of solar masses, explodes after its nuclear fuel is spent. Without the nuclear furnace at its core pushing against gravity, the star collapses: Much of the material is flung outwards in a great supernova blast, while the rest falls inward, forming a black hole of only about 10 solar masses.

Since these ancient quasars were first discovered, scientists have wondered what process could lead a small black hole to gorge and fatten to such an extent, so soon after the Big Bang.

In fact, several processes tend to limit how fast a black hole can grow. For example, the gas normally does not fall directly into the black hole, but gets sidetracked into a slowly spiraling flow, trickling in drop by drop. When the gas is finally swallowed by the black hole, the light it emits pushes out against the gas. That light counterbalances gravity, and it slows the flow that feeds the black hole.

So how, indeed, did these ancient quasars grow? Prof. Tal Alexander, Head of the Particle Physics and Astrophysics Department, proposes a solution in a paper written together with Prof. Priyamvada Natarajan of Yale University, which recently appeared in Science.

Their model begins with the formation of a small black hole in the very early Universe. At that time, cosmologists believe, gas streams were cold, dense, and contained much larger amounts of material than the thin gas streams we see in today’s cosmos. The hungry, newborn black hole moved around, changing direction all the time as it was knocked about by other baby stars in its vicinity.

By quickly zigzagging, the black hole continually swept up more and more of the gas into its orbit, pulling the gas directly into it so fast, the gas could not settle into a slow, spiraling motion. The bigger the black hole got, the faster it ate; this growth rate, explains Alexander, rises faster than exponentially.

After around 10 million years – a blink of an eye in cosmic time – the black hole would have filled out to around 10,000 solar masses. From then, the colossal growth rate would have slowed to a somewhat more leisurely pace, but the black hole’s future path would already be set – leading it to eventually weigh in at a billion solar masses or more.

 

Prof. Tal Alexander’s research is supported by the European Research Council.

Yivsam Azgad | Eurek Alert!
Further information:
http://wis-wander.weizmann.ac.il/all-you-can-eat-at-the-end-of-the-universe?press-room-rb#.U-pXYGEcTct

Further reports about: All-You-Can-Eat Big Bang Physics Universe Weizmann black hole gravity quasars solar masses

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht High-Power Laser Spinoff Proves Versatility Is Strength
20.04.2015 | University of Wisconsin-Madison

nachricht STAR Heavy Flavor Tracker Detects Signs of Charm at RHIC
20.04.2015 | Department of Energy, Office of Science

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: On the trail of a trace gas

Max Planck researcher Buhalqem Mamtimin determines how much nitrogen oxide is released into the atmosphere from agriculturally used oases.

In order to make statements about current and future air pollution, scientists use models which simulate the Earth’s atmosphere. A lot of information such as...

Im Focus: Advances in Molecular Electronics: Lights On – Molecule On

Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) and the University of Konstanz are working on storing and processing information on the level of single molecules to create the smallest possible components that will combine autonomously to form a circuit. As recently reported in the academic journal Advanced Science, the researchers can switch on the current flow through a single molecule for the first time with the help of light.

Dr. Artur Erbe, physicist at the HZDR, is convinced that in the future molecular electronics will open the door for novel and increasingly smaller – while also...

Im Focus: Pruning of Blood Vessels: Cells Can Fuse With Themselves

Cells of the vascular system of vertebrates can fuse with themselves. This process, which occurs when a blood vessel is no longer necessary and pruned, has now been described on the cellular level by Prof. Markus Affolter from the Biozentrum of the University of Basel. The findings of this study have been published in the journal “PLoS Biology”.

The vascular system is the supply network of the human organism and delivers oxygen and nutrients to the last corners of the body. So far, research on the...

Im Focus: Astronomers reveal supermassive black hole's intense magnetic field

Astronomers from Chalmers University of Technology have used the giant telescope Alma to reveal an extremely powerful magnetic field very close to a supermassive black hole in a distant galaxy

Astronomers from Chalmers University of Technology have used the giant telescope Alma to reveal an extremely powerful magnetic field very close to a...

Im Focus: A “pin ball machine” for atoms and photons

A team of physicists from MPQ, Caltech, and ICFO proposes the combination of nano-photonics with ultracold atoms for simulating quantum many-body systems and creating new states of matter.

Ultracold atoms in the so-called optical lattices, that are generated by crosswise superposition of laser beams, have been proven to be one of the most...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

HHL's Entrepreneurship Conference on FinTech

13.04.2015 | Event News

World Conference On Regenerative Medicine 2015: Registration And Abstract Submission Now Open

25.03.2015 | Event News

University presidents from all over the world meet in Hamburg

19.03.2015 | Event News

 
Latest News

Better battery imaging paves way for renewable energy future

21.04.2015 | Materials Sciences

Extending climate predictability beyond El Niño

21.04.2015 | Earth Sciences

Risk Perception: Social Exchange Can Amplify Subjective Fears

21.04.2015 | Studies and Analyses

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>