Western astrophysics have found new clues about black hole origins. The evidence shows they don’t necessarily need to emerge from a star remnant.

So, astrophysicists at Western University have shed light on black hole origins. This may explain the presence of extremely massive black holes at a very early stage in our universe.

Shantanu Basu and Arpan Das from Western’s Department of Physics & Astronomy have developed a new mathematical model explaining the observed distribution of supermassive black hole masses and luminosities.

Now, researchers suggest that supermassive black holes actually form really, really quickly over a very, very short period of time. And then they stop growing.

So, the new model calculates the mass function of supermassive black holes growing rapidly in a short space of time.

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“Supermassive black holes only had a short time period where they were able to grow fast and then at some point, because of all the radiation in the universe created by other black holes and stars, their production came to a halt,” explains Basu. “That’s the direct-collapse scenario.”

This explanation contrasts with the current understanding of how stellar-mass black holes form and until now, theories suggested these black holes emerge when the center of a very massive star collapses in upon itself.

“This is indirect observational evidence that black holes originate from direct-collapses and not from stellar remnants,” says Basu.

During the last decade, astronomers have observed many of these celestial objects at “high redshifts”. They dated back to within 800 million years after the Big Bang.

The idea of these ancient black holes challenges the current understanding of how black holes form and then grow.

Basu believes they can combine these results with future observations to infer the formation history of the extremely massive black holes that exist at very early times in our universe.

Astrophysical Journal Letters published the findings today.

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