A newly published study details evidence for a direct collapse black hole in the Lyman α source CR7.
Astronomers Aaron Smith and Volker Bromm of The University of Texas at Austin, working with Avi Loeb of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, have discovered evidence for an unusual kind of black hole born extremely early in the universe. They showed that a recently discovered unusual source of intense radiation is likely powered by a “direct-collapse black hole,” a type of object predicted by theorists more than a decade ago.
“It’s a cosmic miracle,” Bromm said, referring to the precise set of conditions present half a billion years after the Big Bang that allowed these behemoths to emerge. “It’s the only time in the history of the universe when conditions are just right” for them to form.
These direct-collapse black holes may be the solution to a long-standing puzzle in astronomy: How did supermassive black holes form in the early epochs of the universe? There is strong evidence for their existence, as they are needed to power the highly luminous quasars detected in the young universe. However, there are several problems that should prevent their formation, and the conventional growth process is much too slow.