Questing for black holes in the early Universe

November 13, 2014

Observations of the infant Universe have shown that the most distant galaxies discovered so far host black holes that are extremely massive, characterized by thousand of billions solar masses. These objects, known with the name of “quasars” are generally discovered through the intense X-ray radiation they emit. The mechanism responsible for the formation of these black holes is still not known.

To unveil this mystery and fully understand their origin and evolution, it would be necessary to detect their lower mass ancestors. However, the early phase of a quasar life is characterized by the production of huge amounts of dust that absorbs X-ray radiation and thus hampers the detection of black holes.

In the frame of the European Research Program RadioNet3, Dr. Simona Gallerani of the Cosmology group of the Scuola Normale Superiore (Italy) in collaboration with the University of Cambridge (UK) and IRAM (France), has recently discovered in one of the most distant quasars known to date the emission line of carbon monoxide in the highest energy transition ever detected so far. Contrary to X-ray radiation, this line has the property of passing undisturbed through dusty regions. The detection of this line in a very distant quasar has promising potential to open a new pathway for the discovery and the study of the evolution of the first black holes in the early Universe. These results, obtained with the precursor of the NOEMA telescope, have been reported in Science.

Read more at:

or at the official RadioNet webpage