The ESO has used its VLT (Very Large Telescope) to discover something very interesting. Astronomers have discovered six galaxies lying around a supermassive black hole since the universe was less than a billion years old. Researchers say that this is the first time such a close grouping has been seen soon after the Big Bang. The discovery gives a better understanding of how supermassive black holes form and grow to their enormous size so quickly.
Researchers say that the discovery supports the theory that black holes grow rapidly within large, web-like structures that contain plenty of gas to fuel them. The observations using the VLT reveal several galaxies surrounding a supermassive black hole inside a cosmic spider’s web of gas that extend over 300 times the size of the Milky Way.
The cosmic web filaments are similar to a spider’s web filaments in the way they cross, and gas streams are available to fuel both the galaxies and the central supermassive black hole. Gass can flow along the filaments. The gigantic supermassive black hole has 1 billion solar masses, and the light from the web-like structure originated when the galaxy was only 0.9 billion years old.
Scientists theorize that the very first black holes formed from the collapse of the first stars and had to have grown very quickly to reach masses so large within the first 0.9 billion years the universe’s life. Astronomers believe that giant halos of dark matter are the key to forming these large web-like structures. Regions of dark matter are thought to attract huge amounts of gas in the early universe, with the gas and dark matter creating the web-like structures where galaxies and black holes evolve.
The galaxies the VLT have detected are some of the faintest that the telescope can observe. To make the discovery, astronomers had to conduct observations over several hours using the largest optical telescopes available. The team used the MUSE and FORS2 instruments on the VLT to confirm the link between the six galaxies and the black hole. The team believes that they’ve only observed the tip of the iceberg and the viewed galaxies observed so far around the supermassive black hole are only the brightest ones. An even larger telescope called the ESO Extremely Large Telescope is currently under construction in Chile and will build on that research by observing fainter galaxies when it’s complete.