"The first stars were much more massive than most stars we see today, upwards of 100 times the mass of our sun," said John Wise, a post-doctoral fellow at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., and one of the study's authors. "For the first time, we were able to simulate in detail what happens to the gas around those stars before and after they form black holes."
The intense radiation and strong outflows from these massive stars caused nearby gas to dissipate. "These stars essentially cleared out most of the gas in their vicinity," Wise said. A fraction of these first stars didn't end their lives in grand supernovae explosions. Instead, they collapsed directly into black holes.
But the black holes were born into a gas-depleted cavity and, with little gas to feed on, they grew very slowly. "During the 200 million years of our simulation, a 100 solar-mass black hole grew by less than one percent of its mass," said Marcelo Alvarez, the study's lead author, at the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology, located at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in Menlo Park, Calif.
This simulation, which was performed on a supercomputer at SLAC, is the most detailed to date. Starting with data taken from observations of the cosmic background radiation -- a flash of light that occurred 380,000 years after the big bang that presents the earliest view of cosmic structure -- the researchers applied the basic laws that govern the interaction of matter and allowed their model of the early universe to evolve. The complex simulation included hydrodynamics, chemical reactions, the absorption and emission of radiation, and star formation.
In the simulation, cosmic gas slowly coalesced under the force of gravity and eventually formed the first stars. These massive, hot stars burned bright for a short time, emitting so much energy in the form of starlight that they pushed away nearby gas clouds.
These stars could not sustain such a fiery existence for long, and they soon exhausted their internal fuel. One of the stars in the simulation collapsed under its own weight to form a black hole. With only wisps of gas nearby, the black hole was essentially "starved" of matter on which to grow.
Yet, despite its strict diet, the black hole had a dramatic effect on its surroundings. This was revealed through a key aspect of the simulation called radiative feedback, which accounted for the way X-rays emitted by the black hole affected distant gas.
Even on a diet, a black hole produces lots of X-rays. This radiation not only kept nearby gas from falling in, but it heated gas a hundred light-years away to several thousand degrees. Hot gas cannot come together to form new stars. "Even though the black holes aren't growing significantly, their radiation is intense enough to shut off star formation nearby for tens and maybe even hundreds of millions of years," said Alvarez.
The study, which will appear in an upcoming issue of The Astrophysical Journal Letters, shows that early black holes had a surprisingly complex role in shaping the universe.
"I'm thrilled that we now can do calculations that start to capture the most relevant physics, and we can show which ideas work and which don't," said coauthor Tom Abel, also at Kavli. "In the next decade, using calculations like this one, we will settle some of the most important issues related to the role of black holes in the universe."
Francis Reddy | EurekAlert!
Matter falling into a black hole at 30 percent of the speed of light
24.09.2018 | Royal Astronomical Society
Scientists solve the golden puzzle of calaverite
24.09.2018 | Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology
The building blocks of matter in our universe were formed in the first 10 microseconds of its existence, according to the currently accepted scientific picture. After the Big Bang about 13.7 billion years ago, matter consisted mainly of quarks and gluons, two types of elementary particles whose interactions are governed by quantum chromodynamics (QCD), the theory of strong interaction. In the early universe, these particles moved (nearly) freely in a quark-gluon plasma.
This is a joint press release of University Muenster and Heidelberg as well as the GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung in Darmstadt.
Then, in a phase transition, they combined and formed hadrons, among them the building blocks of atomic nuclei, protons and neutrons. In the current issue of...
Thin-film solar cells made of crystalline silicon are inexpensive and achieve efficiencies of a good 14 percent. However, they could do even better if their shiny surfaces reflected less light. A team led by Prof. Christiane Becker from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) has now patented a sophisticated new solution to this problem.
"It is not enough simply to bring more light into the cell," says Christiane Becker. Such surface structures can even ultimately reduce the efficiency by...
A study in the journal Bulletin of Marine Science describes a new, blood-red species of octocoral found in Panama. The species in the genus Thesea was discovered in the threatened low-light reef environment on Hannibal Bank, 60 kilometers off mainland Pacific Panama, by researchers at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama (STRI) and the Centro de Investigación en Ciencias del Mar y Limnología (CIMAR) at the University of Costa Rica.
Scientists established the new species, Thesea dalioi, by comparing its physical traits, such as branch thickness and the bright red colony color, with the...
Scientists have succeeded in observing the first long-distance transfer of information in a magnetic group of materials known as antiferromagnets.
An international team of researchers has mapped Nemo's genome, providing the research community with an invaluable resource to decode the response of fish to...
21.09.2018 | Event News
03.09.2018 | Event News
27.08.2018 | Event News
24.09.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
24.09.2018 | Earth Sciences
24.09.2018 | Health and Medicine