Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New surveys peer through dust to reveal giant supermassive black holes

Date:
October 8, 2012
Source:
Royal Astronomical Society (RAS)
Summary:
Scientists have used cutting-edge infrared surveys of the sky to discover a new population of enormous, rapidly growing supermassive black holes in the early Universe. The black holes were previously undetected because they sit cocooned within thick layers of dust. The new study has shown however that they are emitting vast amounts of radiation through violent interactions with their host galaxies.

Markarian 231, an example of a galaxy with a dusty rapidly growing supermassive black hole located 600 million light years from Earth. The black hole is the very bright source at the centre of the galaxy. Rings of gas and dust can be seen around it as well as "tidal tails" left over from a recent impact with another galaxy.
Credit: Hubblesite.org

Scientists at the University of Cambridge have used cutting-edge infrared surveys of the sky to discover a new population of enormous, rapidly growing supermassive black holes in the early Universe. The black holes were previously undetected because they sit cocooned within thick layers of dust. The new study has shown however that they are emitting vast amounts of radiation through violent interactions with their host galaxies.

Related Articles


The team publish their results in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

The most extreme object in the study is a supermassive black hole called ULASJ1234+0907. This object, located in the direction of the constellation of Virgo, is so far away that the light from it has taken 11 billion light years to reach us, so we see it as it appeared in the early universe. The monster black hole has more than 10 billion times the mass of the Sun and 10,000 times the mass of the supermassive black hole in our own Milky Way, making it one of the most massive black holes ever seen.

The research indicates that that there may be as many as 400 such giant black holes in the part of the universe that we can observe. "These results could have a significant impact on studies of supermassive black holes" said Dr Manda Banerji, lead author of the paper. "Most black holes of this kind are seen through the matter they drag in. As the neighbouring material spirals in towards the black holes, it heats up. Astronomers are able to see this radiation and observe these systems."

"Although these black holes have been studied for some time, the new results indicate that some of the most massive ones may have so far been hidden from our view." The newly discovered black holes, devouring the equivalent of several hundred Suns every year, will shed light on the physical processes governing the growth of all supermassive black holes.

Supermassive black holes are now known to reside at the centres of all galaxies. In the most massive galaxies in the Universe, they are predicted to grow through violent collisions with other galaxies, which trigger the formation of stars and provides food for the black holes to devour. These violent collisions also produce dust within the galaxies therefore embedding the black hole in a dusty envelope for a short period of time as it is being fed.

In comparison with remote objects like ULASJ1234+0907, the most spectacular example of a dusty, growing black hole in the local Universe is the well-studied galaxy Markarian 231 located a mere 600 million light years away. Detailed studies with the Hubble Space Telescope have shown evidence that Markarian 231 underwent a violent impact with another galaxy in the recent past. ULASJ1234+0907 is a more extreme version of this nearby galaxy, indicating that conditions in the early Universe were much more turbulent and inhospitable than they are today.

In the new study, the team from Cambridge used infrared surveys being carried out on the UK Infrared Telescope (UKIRT) to peer through the dust and locate the giant black holes for the first time. Prof. Richard McMahon, co-author of the study, who is also leading the largest infrared survey of the sky, said: "These results are particularly exciting because they show that our new infrared surveys are finding super massive black holes that are invisible in optical surveys. These new quasars are important because we may be catching them as they are being fed through collisions with other galaxies. Observations with the new Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) telescope in Chile will allow us to directly test this picture by detecting the microwave frequency radiation emitted by the vast amounts of gas in the colliding galaxies."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Royal Astronomical Society (RAS). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Banerji, Manda; McMahon, Richard; Hewett, Paul; Alaghband-Zadeh, Susannah; Gonzalez-Solares, Eduardo; Venemans, Bram. Heavily Reddened Quasars at z~2 in the UKIDSS Large Area Survey: A Transition Phase in AGN Evolution. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 2012 (in press) [link]

Cite This Page:

Royal Astronomical Society (RAS). "New surveys peer through dust to reveal giant supermassive black holes." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 October 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121008091546.htm>.
Royal Astronomical Society (RAS). (2012, October 8). New surveys peer through dust to reveal giant supermassive black holes. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 26, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121008091546.htm
Royal Astronomical Society (RAS). "New surveys peer through dust to reveal giant supermassive black holes." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121008091546.htm (accessed November 26, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Space & Time News

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Feast Your Eyes: Lamb Chop Sent Into Space from UK

Feast Your Eyes: Lamb Chop Sent Into Space from UK

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Nov. 25, 2014) — Take a stab at this -- stunt video shows a lamb chop's journey from an east London restaurant over 30 kilometers into space. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Soyuz Spacecraft Docks With International Space Station: NASA

Soyuz Spacecraft Docks With International Space Station: NASA

AFP (Nov. 24, 2014) — A Russian Soyuz spacecraft carrying Italy's first female astronaut safely docks with the International Space Station, according to NASA. Duration: 00:40 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Multi-National Crew Safely Docks at Space Station

Multi-National Crew Safely Docks at Space Station

Reuters - US Online Video (Nov. 24, 2014) — A Russian Soyuz rocket delivers a multi-national trio to the International Space Station. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Soyuz Docks With Int'l Space Station

Raw: Soyuz Docks With Int'l Space Station

AP (Nov. 23, 2014) — A Russian capsule carrying three astronauts from Russia, the United States and Italy has arrived at the International Space Station. (Nov. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins