Massive Black Hole

SnakHistory at 30,000 feet: The Big Picture

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Massive Black Hole

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dec 6, 2017, 3:55pm

It’s interesting that they have found this unexpected black hole, but the article leaves a lot unexplained. How does its existence change our understanding of the early universe? We had a very good idea of when the universe filled with light before: 240,000 to 300,000 years after the Big Bang. I’m guessing, though it’s not spelled out, that this is talking about when stars came into being, some of whose endings are responsible for black holes, and having necessarily predated the existence of black holes. Before that had to come the reionization event resulting in atoms per se, rather than a soup of protons and neutrons stripped of electrons. So this is about a unexpectedly early date? And yet the article is dating this black hole to 680 million years after the Big Bang. I think I’m missing something.

dec 8, 2017, 12:40am

Ok, sorted out my misunderstanding somewhat. I was wrong on the dates. Reionization spanned 400 million to 1 billion years ago, within the dating of this black hole. It is recombination, when photons could attach as electrons to protons. Before that the universe was a hot, dense plasma.

The black hole in question was far larger than theory allows it to be after such a short time following the Big Bang. The question is how could that be?

Typically, there is a lucid article about this in quanta magazine, a wonderful online resource, of reliably high quality and excellent writing: