A million-times-brighter-than-our-sun black hole may hold the key to the universe’s reunification.
A period called “The Epoch of Reionization” began about 400,000 years after the universe was created.
The once-hotter universe began to cool at this time, and matter began to clump together, forming the first stars and galaxies.
As these stars and galaxies formed, their energy heated the environment around them, reionizing some of the universe’s remaining hydrogen.
The reionization of the universe is well documented, but figuring out how it occurred has proven difficult.
Astronomers have looked outside of our galaxy for clues in order to learn more.
Astronomers at the have discovered a source in a group of galaxies known as Lyman continuum galaxies that may hold clues to how the universe was reionized, according to a new study.
The Iowa astronomers discovered a, a million times brighter than our sun, that could have fueled the universe’s reionization.
According to observations made with’s flagship Chandra X-ray observatory in February 2021, that black hole is powerful enough to punch channels in its respective galaxy, allowing ultraviolet photons to escape and be observed.
“The implication is that outflows from black holes may be important for allowing ultraviolet radiation from galaxies that reionized the intergalactic medium to escape,” says corresponding author Phil Kaaret, professor and chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy.
“We can’t see the sources that actually powered the reionization of the universe because they’re too far away,” Kaaret says.
“We looked at a nearby galaxy that resembled galaxies that formed in the early universe in terms of properties.
One of the main goals of the was to look for galaxies that housed the sources that fueled the universe’s reionization.”
P Kaaret, J Bluem, and A H Prestwich, “Rapid turn-on of a luminous X-ray source in the candidate Lyman continuum emitting galaxy Tol 0440-381,” Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 14 December 2021, DOI: 10.1093mnraslslab127.
Andrea Prestwich of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and Jesse Bluem, a graduate research assistant at Iowa, are co-authors.