Webb telescope’s images of most distant supermassive black hole
The James Webb Space Telescope has detected the most distant active supermassive black hole ever observed. The Cosmic Evolution Early Release Science (CEERS) Survey combined highly detailed images and data from Webb to unveil fascinating celestial phenomena.
The CEERS Survey panorama offers a mesmerizing view of the cosmos, stitched together from multiple images captured by the telescope. The image showcases a variety of galaxies, each exhibiting its unique characteristics.
The most striking features include a cluster of bright white spiral galaxies twisting into one another, delicate pink spirals resembling twirling pinwheels, and brilliant foreground stars with Webb’s distinctive eight-pointed diffraction spikes.
Notably, the survey unveils galaxies that have never been seen before, making Webb the first to reveal their existence.
Scientists directed their attention to the tiniest reddest dots scattered throughout the survey to identify these elusive galaxies. These dots emitted light that had travelled for over 13 billion years to reach the telescope, allowing researchers to make groundbreaking discoveries.
By obtaining spectra data (highly detailed near- and mid-infrared images and data) with Webb, they unveiled the most distant active supermassive black hole known to date, along with two additional extremely distant black holes that existed when the universe was just 1 billion years old. The team also confirmed the existence of eleven galaxies when the universe was a mere 470 to 675 million years old.
The record-breaking black hole, located in the galaxy CEERS 1019, is notable for its ancient existence and relatively low mass. Weighing about 9 million times the mass of the Sun, it is significantly lighter than other black holes from the early universe detected by previous telescopes.
These more massive black holes, with over 1 billion solar masses, are easier to detect due to their brightness resulting from the matter they consume. In contrast, CEERS 1019’s black hole is similar in mass to the one at the centre of our Milky Way galaxy. Despite its smaller size, the black hole in CEERS 1019 challenges scientists’ understanding of how it formed so quickly after the universe’s birth.
This set of discoveries and potential future identifications promises to revolutionize the understanding of star formation and galaxy evolution throughout cosmic history.
Alex Baker is a portrait and lifestyle driven photographer based in Valencia, Spain. She works on a range of projects from commercial to fine art and has had work featured in publications such as The Daily Mail, Conde Nast Traveller and El Mundo, and has exhibited work across Europe