Quasar Discovery Challenges Black Hole Theories — Dare to Know

We Viewed Everything Through the Lens of the Space Race

NASA relied heavily on transistors in its space program because they were compact and more reliable than older electronic systems. One way that NASA sold the space program to the public was by emphasizing the spin-off benefits in new technology that their research and development fostered.

Radio Telescopes Started Picking Up Unusual Objects

The new phenomena emitted signals across many frequencies. Yet, when they looked for them with optical telescopes, either they couldn’t find them, or the object looked faint and non-descript.

So Much Powerful Energy in a Tight Space

That brought up another question. How could so much powerful energy be packed into such a tight space? Since they were star-like objects that emitted a wide range of radio frequencies, they got the name quasi-stellar radio source, quasar for short.

Hydrogen Spectrum Redshifted by 15.8 Percent

The same odd spectrum turned up, and Schmidt concluded that it was an ordinary hydrogen spectrum but redshifted by 15.8%. Schmidt thought about redshifts and realized that the overall expansion of the universe was what usually caused them.

Central Cores of Distant Galaxies

A lot of fanciful explanations arose through the 60s and 70s until cosmologists finally hit on the right answer. A quasar forms when a newly formed star and the disk that usually forms its solar system get trapped in a supermassive black hole.

Existed Not Long After the Universe Began

The journal Astrophysical Letters will be publishing their results. The research team has given the new quasar a Hawaiian name.

Most Luminous Objects in the Universe

Professor Hennawi explained our current understanding of quasars this way “They are the most luminous objects in the Universe, outshining their host galaxies by factors of more than a hundred.”

1.5 Billion Times More Massive Than the Sun

Poniuaena is twice the size of the most distant quasar of all. For perspective, it’s also about 1.5 billion times more massive than the sun.

Both Quasars More than 13 Billion Years Old

The Big Bang took place about 13.8 billion years ago. The proximity of these two dates is puzzling for cosmologists because it’s inconsistent with their current understanding of black hole formation and growth.

Existed Just 100 Million Years After the Big Bang

Team member Xiaohui Fan, at the University of Arizona, asked, “How can the universe produce such a massive black hole so early in its history?” He pointed out that, “This discovery presents the biggest challenge yet for the theory of black hole formation and growth in the early universe.”

“Poniuaena Acts Like a Cosmic Lighthouse”

“Poniuaena acts like a cosmic lighthouse. As its light travels the long journey towards Earth, its spectrum is altered by diffuse gas in the intergalactic medium, which allowed us to pinpoint when the Epoch of Reionization occurred.”



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store