Supermassive black holes from supermassive stars
Supermassive stars in the early universe gave supermassive black holes a head start
March 25, 2013
In this simulation, a black hole that was just formed by
the collapse of a supermassive star is surrounded by a
distribution of gas (color indicates density). Because the
black hole (located at the center but too small to see)
grows by consuming the available gas, simulations like
this one help determine how quickly the black hole can
grow. The progenitor of this black hole, which contained
up to a hundred thousand suns’ worth of mass in a single
star, could only have formed in the very early universe.
Most astronomers doubted that early star-forming regions could sustain the conditions needed to grow supermassive stars, but new Los Alamos research says otherwise
Observations of distant quasars—bright light sources powered by supermassive black holes—demonstrate that supermassive black holes had already existed when the universe was very young.
Because black holes are born small, as a result of a dying star going supernova, astrophysicists have been led to question how the early black holes grew so big so fast.
New results from cosmological simulations suggest that star formation conditions back then allowed the first stars to become supermassive themselves, giving the black holes a much-needed head start.