Supermassive Black Holes or Their Galaxies? Which Came First? | Summary and Q&A

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September 5, 2017
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Fraser Cain
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Supermassive Black Holes or Their Galaxies? Which Came First?

TL;DR

Supermassive black holes are found at the center of almost every galaxy, but how they formed and their relationship with galaxies has been a long-standing mystery in astronomy. Recent research suggests that these black holes formed through bottom-up processes, with early stars dying as supernovae and creating more massive black holes over time.

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Questions & Answers

Q: What are quasars and how do they relate to supermassive black holes?

Quasars are distant objects in the Universe that are actually supermassive black holes actively feeding and emitting huge amounts of radiation from their accretion disks.

Q: How did astronomers discover the presence of supermassive black holes in the Milky Way?

Astronomers found a radio source emitting radiation at the center of the Milky Way, which was titled Sagittarius A*. Detailed surveys in the infrared spectrum confirmed the presence of a supermassive black hole, as evidenced by the orbits of stars around it.

Q: What are the two models proposed for the large-scale structure of the Universe?

The top-down model suggests that a galactic supercluster formed all at once from a massive cloud of primordial hydrogen, while the bottom-up model proposes that pockets of gas and dust collected together to form galaxies, clusters, and superclusters over time.

Q: Which model is currently favored by astronomers?

Recent observations and the timing of the formation of the first stars support the bottom-up model, where small parts gradually came together to form larger structures, including supermassive black holes.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Quasars, initially discovered in the 1950s, are actually supermassive black holes actively feeding and emitting radiation from billions of light-years away.

  • Astronomers have confirmed the presence of supermassive black holes in the Milky Way and other galaxies, but the formation process remains unknown.

  • Two models, top down and bottom up, have been proposed to explain the large-scale structure of the Universe, with the bottom up model currently favored.

  • Observations of ultra compact galaxies with high percentages of black hole mass support the idea that early merging events shaped the evolution of galaxies.

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