Astronomers have measured a ‘Halos’ Of Dark Matter near A Black Hole for the First Time
A black hole is a region of spacetime where gravity is so strong that nothing, including light or other electromagnetic waves, has enough energy to escape it.
Studying the mysterious shape of matter surrounding ancient quasar galaxies could have profound implications for our understanding of the evolution of the universe.
For the first time, a team of astronomers has “weighed” the halos of dark matter around the supermassive black holes that are actively powering the bright hearts of ancient galaxies.
These cores, or quasars, powered by black holes, are often brighter than the combined light of all the stars in the galaxies around them. These super-bright central regions “burn up” when supermassive black holes, billions of times more massive than the sun, begin gobbling up surrounding matter.
And according to a new study, scientists suggest that dark matter halos around these active galaxies may help funnel matter toward the central black hole, acting as a cosmic transport service. Help feed the giants. This new work shows that such feeding mechanisms have indeed taken place around hundreds of ancient quasars and suggests that this process has remained constant throughout the history of the universe.
No bunari Kashikawa, team leader and professor at the University of Tokyo’s Department of Astronomy, said: “For the first time we have measured the mass of a typical dark matter halo around an active black hole in a universe of about 13 billion years ago”. Press Release. “We found that the dark matter halo mass of quasars is quite stable, about 10 trillion times the mass of our sun. Such measurements have been made of dark matter halo masses more recently around quasars, and these measurements are very similar to those we have made.” observe quasars. Larger quasars.
“This is exciting because it suggests that there is a characteristic halo of dark matter that seems to trigger a quasar, whether it occurred billions of years ago or now.”
Not only is this unexpected, but because supermassive black holes at the centers of galaxies strongly influence star formation and galaxy evolution in general, this could have a profound impact on the evolution of galaxies. Scientists’ understanding of how galaxies formed and evolved in the early universe and, therefore, how the universe evolved.
Weighing the Dark Matter Content of Ancient Galaxies
The nature of dark matter is a pressing issue for science because although it makes up about 85% of all matter in our universe, it does not interact with light and therefore remains invisible to the naked eye with us.
Astronomers can infer the presence of dark matter through its gravitational effect and the effect this has on standard everyday matter including stars, cosmic dust, and clouds. gas clouds, planets in galaxies as well as light traveling through these galaxies. This elusive gravitational effect eventually led scientists to realize that most galaxies must be enveloped in some kind of dark matter halo. With only the gravitational pull of visible matter inside them, galaxies would not be able to hold together while spinning at high speeds.
But even as techniques to infer dark matter are perfected, measuring the mass of this invisible substance in halos around nearby galaxies remains difficult. And measuring dark matter in more distant and therefore older galaxies has proven more difficult because the light from these galaxies is so faint.
However, Kashikawa is not willing to let him be paralyzed by these challenges. He and his team wanted to better understand how black holes evolved in the early Universe, and thanks to the luminosity of hundreds of these largest and most powerful supermassive black holes that power quasars, the researchers Research can measure dark matter halos around ancient black holes. Galaxy for the first time.
The light emitted from these ancient quasars takes up to 13 billion years to travel through the universe and reach the telescope. During this epic journey, this light lost energy and its wavelengths were stretched, moving them beyond the red end of the visible light spectrum and transforming them into wavelengths of light. infrared light — a process astronomers call “redshift.”
In 2016, Kashikawa and team began collecting infrared data from a series of astronomical surveys conducted with various instruments, primarily the Subaru Telescope atop Maunakea, Hawaii. This allowed them to see how the light from these quasars was altered by the gravitational effects of dark matter, which like all matter with mass, distorts the fabric of space and thus causes creates a curve in the path of light — a process astronomers call gravity. Measuring the amount of distortion and comparing it to the amount of distortion expected to result from the mass of everyday matter in the form of gas, dust and stars in these galaxies reveals the hidden mass of dark matter. .
“The upgrades have allowed Subaru to see further than ever before, but we can learn more by expanding our observing projects internationally,” Kashikawa added. “The US Vera C. Rubin Observatory and even the Euclid space satellite, launched by the EU this year, will scan a larger area of the sky and find many DMHs around quasars. “We were able to build a more complete picture of the relationship between galaxies and supermassive black holes. This could help inform our theories about the formation and growth of black holes.”
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