James Webb has accomplished remarkable feats, surpassing our wildest expectations. Its breathtaking imagery of the cosmos is awe-inspiring, but its capabilities go even further. Scientists have utilized this extraordinary telescope to peer back in time, unveiling a mesmerizing sight known as the “rainbow knot” from 11.5 billion years ago. Delving deeper into the past, astronomers have now gazed upon ancient quasars, witnessing starlight from galaxies that existed when our universe was less than one billion years old.
Consider the magnitude of this discovery: these two galaxies represent some of the oldest ever observed, considering that our universe is estimated to be approximately 13.8 billion years old. The light emitted by these galaxies traveled an inconceivable distance, taking a staggering 12.9 and 12.8 billion years to reach Earth, as calculated by the diligent astronomers. Such revelations continue to push the boundaries of our understanding of the cosmos.
The recent observations of these ancient quasars have provided intriguing insights into the characteristics of these early galaxies. The findings indicate that the mass of these galaxies ranges from 30 billion to 130 billion times that of the sun, while the black holes residing within them have masses of 200 million and 1.4 billion times that of the sun. Remarkably, this information suggests that the mass of these early galaxies and their black holes aligns with what we observe in more recent galaxies.
Quasars, recognized as some of the most extraordinary entities in the universe, captivate our attention for good reason. They derive their power from supermassive black holes surrounded by dust and gas, with a substantial portion being accreted by the central black holes. Notably, while all galaxies harbor supermassive black holes, not all of them manifest as quasars.
The exact cause of quasars remains somewhat mysterious, although astronomers hypothesize that the masses of these supermassive black holes are somehow linked to a sequence of galactic mergers. These mergers fuel the black holes at the galactic centers, giving rise to the immense energy required to fuel quasars. The newfound discovery contributes to our understanding of the far-reaching existence of ancient quasars, offering excitement to those dedicated to unraveling the enigmas of the early universe.