First massive black holes may have formed through the help of radiation from nearby galaxies

March 14, 2017

The appearance of supermassive black holes at the dawn of the universe has puzzled astronomers since their discovery more than a decade ago. A supermassive black hole is thought to form over billions of years, but more than two dozen of these behemoths have been sighted within 800 million years of the Big Bang 13.8 billion years ago.

A new study that appeared in Nature Astronomy on March 13 finds that radiation from a bright nearby galaxy could have prevented early galaxies from forming starts, and helped them form a large black hole instead. The study involved former Columbia prize fellow Eli Visbal and faculty members Greg Bryan and Zoltan Haiman. See the Columbia University press release here.


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