“We did not expect that Spitzer, with a mirror no larger than a Hula-Hoop, would be capable of seeing galaxies so close to the dawn of time,” said Michael Werner, Spitzer’s project scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California in 2019. “But nature is full of surprises, and the unexpected brightness of these early galaxies, together with Spitzer’s superb performance, puts them within range of our small but powerful observatory.”
A big step in solving the mystery of how the very biggest black holes grow has been taken by researchers using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory. They identified a black hole containing about 200,000 times the mass of the Sun, buried in gas and dust in the dwarf galaxy Mrk 462. ”Future sensitive observations, using x-ray and the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) for example, will be able to find signatures of direct collapse black holes over a wider range of masses and growth rates, and help determine whether they form the seeds of the supermassive black holes we see today,” wrote Dartmouth University astrophysicist Ryan Hickox in an email to The Daily Galaxy,
Welcome to our new daily feature: today’s news from the Universe that has the capacity to provide clues to the mystery of our existence and adds a much needed cosmic perspective in our current Anthropocene Epoch.
“This is really an origin story; for the first time we can explain how all nearby star formation began,” says astronomer and data visualization expert Catherine Zucker a NASA Hubble Fellow at the Harvard Center for Astrophysics and Space Science Institute about the discovery that Earth sits in a 1,000-light-year-wide void surrounded by thousands of young stars.
Did supermassive black holes exist shortly after the big bang, before the birth of stars? “This is one of the last great mysteries of the early universe,” said Kirk S. S. Barrow in 2018, currently at Harvard’s CfA, about how supermassive black holes formed during the birth of a galaxy. It’s a mystery the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) may soon be able to solve.
This week’s report from the Cosmos brings amazing stories ranging from What Existed Before the Big Bang to Forms of Consciousness We Can’t Recognize to World’s Scientists Share Their Expectations for the James Webb Space Telescope.