“James Webb” Space Telescope Discovers Unusual Black Hole in Ancient Galaxy

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Astronomers have used the unprecedented capabilities of the James Webb Space Telescope to discover a true monster in the world of stars. The black hole detected turned out to be so exceptionally massive that it likely halted the star formation process in the ancient galaxy GS-9209.

“James Webb”, illustration. Image Source: NASA

A team of scientists from the University of Edinburgh utilized the James Webb telescope to study one of the most distant galaxies—GS-9209, located 25 billion light-years away from Earth. In the course of the research, published in the journal Nature, it turned out that this galaxy is interesting for more reasons. According to the scientists, GS-9209 is what’s known as a “massive quiescent galaxy,” having formed as many stars as are present in the Milky Way only 800 million years after the Big Bang. Though GS-9209 has roughly the same number of stars, with a combined mass equivalent to about 40 billion solar masses, the galaxy is 10 times smaller in size than ours.

The James Webb telescope helped the scientists determine that the primary culprit behind the cessation of star formation in this foreign galaxy was a supermassive black hole at the center of GS-9209, which is five times more massive than it should have been according to contemporary scientific understanding—based on the number of luminaries in the galaxy.

According to the scientists, such a black hole came as a “big surprise” and yet another confirmation of one theory that supermassive black holes can inhibit the formation of new stars. During the process of accretion, they emit intense high-energy radiation, which heats the gas and quite literally “pushes” it out of galaxies, resulting in a lack of new stars due to a shortage of the basic “building material.”

The fact that this black hole is so massive may mean, in the opinion of scientists, that it was “very active in the past,” absorbing a tremendous amount of gas and dust and likely shone as a quasar. All the energy released during the accretion process probably had a significant impact on the star formation process throughout the galaxy, preventing the gas from turning into new stars.

James Webb has proven to be extremely effective not only at long but also very short distances. Relatively recently, it detected a gigantic icy geyser on Saturn’s moon Enceladus, which will help scientists make numerous discoveries related to this small, ice-covered world.

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Vasyl Kolomiiets
Vasyl Kolomiiets
I'm Vasyl Kolomiiets, a seasoned tech journalist regularly contributing to global publications. Having a profound background in information technologies, I seamlessly blended my technical expertise with my passion for writing, venturing into technology journalism. I've covered a wide range of topics including cutting-edge developments and their impacts on society, contributing to leading tech platforms.

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