James Webb Space Telescope survey reveals fewer supermassive black holes than presumed

Hexbyte Glen Cove

Illustration of active galactic nucleus. Credit: ESA/NASA/AVO/Paolo Padovani

A University of Kansas survey of a swath of the cosmos using the James Webb Space Telescope has revealed active galactic nuclei (AGN)—supermassive black holes that are rapidly increasing in size—are rarer than many astronomers had assumed previously.

The findings, made with the JWST’s Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI), suggest our universe may be a bit more stable than was supposed. The work also gives insights into observations of faint galaxies, their properties and challenges in identifying AGN.

A new paper detailing the JWST research, conducted under auspices of the Cosmic Evolution Early Release Science (CEERS) program, was made available on arXiv in advance of formal peer review publication in The Astrophysical Journal.

The work, headed by Allison Kirkpatrick, assistant professor of physics & astronomy at KU, focused on a long-studied zone of cosmos dubbed the Extended Groth Strip, located between the Ursa Major and Boötes constellations. But previous examinations of the area relied on a less powerful generation of space telescopes.

“Our observations were taken in last June and December, and we were aiming to characterize how galaxies looked during the heyday of star formation in the universe,” Kirkpatrick said. “This is a look back in time of 7 to 10 billion years in the past. We used the mid-infrared instrument on the James Webb Space Telescope to look at dust in galaxies that are existing 10 billion years in the past, and that dust can hide ongoing star formation, and it can hide growing supermassive . So I carried out the first survey to search for these lurking, supermassive black holes at the centers of these galaxies.”

While every galaxy features a supermassive black hole at the middle, AGN are more spectacular upheavals actively drawing in gases and showing a luminosity absent from typical black holes.

Kirkpatrick and many fellow astrophysicists anticipated that the higher-resolution JWST survey would locate many more AGN than a previous survey, conducted with the Spitzer Space Telescope. However, even with MIRI’s boost in power and sensitivity, few additional AGN were found in the new survey.

% %item_read_more_button%% Hexbyte Glen Cove Educational Blog Repost With Backlinks — #metaverse #vr #ar #wordpress

Posted in Uncategorized and tagged , .