Monster Black Holes Beyond Comprehension Grew from Quasi-Stars in Early Universe

Srvr Monster black holes in the early universe could have formed deep within giant star-like objects. The most detailed models yet of this scenario could help explain how black holes with a mass of a billion or more suns were created in the first billion years of the universe.

Models developed in 2006 by Mitchell Begelman of the University of Colorado in Boulder suggested that when a massive gas cloud collapses under gravity, it could form a small black hole at its core, giving rise to an object called a quasi-star. The black hole could quickly grow to 1000 times the sun's mass by feeding on the gas shrouding  it, until steady growth would eventually turn it into a supermassive black hole. Warrick Ball of the University of Cambridge and colleagues have corroborated Begelman's original findings.

To model quasi-stars, Ball and his team turned to software originally designed to simulate the interiors of stars. Ball found that the existence of bright quasars at high redshifts implies that supermassive black holes were able to form in the early Universe. Initially stellar-mass black holes grew from hydrostatic giant-like envelopes of gas, formed from the monolithic collapse of pre-galactic gas clouds.

Ball and team find that the black hole inside the massive quasi-stellar gas envelope is able to reach slightly more than one-tenth of the total mass of the system before hydrostatic equilibrium breaks down after a few million years of evolution. Ball and colleagues found that quasi-stars could indeed give rise to black holes with at least 1000 times the mass of the sun.

"It's good to see that another group is independently working on this and getting a similar answer," says Begelman.

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