Chandra Illustration and X-ray Image of SDSSp J1306
NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory has obtained definitive evidence that a distant quasar formed less than a billion years after the big bang contains a fully-grown supermassive black hole generating energy at the rate of 20 trillion suns. The existence of such massive black holes at this early epoch of the Universe challenges theories of the formation of galaxies and supermassive black holes. The Marshall Center manages the Chandra program.
NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory has obtained definitive evidence that a distant quasar formed less than a billion years after the big bang contains a fully-grown supermassive black hole generating energy at the rate of twenty trillion suns. The existence of such massive black holes at this early epoch of the Universe challenges theories of the formation of galaxies and supermassive black holes.
Astronomers Daniel Schwartz and Shanil Virani of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, MA observed the quasar, known as SDSSp J1306, which is 12.7 billion light-years away. Since the Universe is estimated to be 13.7 billion years old, we see the quasar as it was a billion years after the big bang. They found that the distribution of X-rays with energy, or X-ray spectrum, is indistinguishable from that of nearby, older quasars. Likewise, the relative brightness at optical and X-ray wavelengths of SDSSp J1306 was similar to that of the nearby group of quasars. Optical observations suggest that the mass of the black hole is about a billion solar masses.
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