Categories: AstronomyBlack Holes

Did Supermassive Black Holes Form Directly From Dark Matter?

Supermassive black holes are just a little bit too supermassive – astronomers have difficulty explaining how they got so big so quickly in the early universe. So maybe it’s time for a new idea: perhaps giant black holes formed directly from dark matter.

The biggest black holes in the universe are frighteningly big, topping out at over a hundred billion times more massive than the sun. To make things even more frightening, we see these kinds of monsters very early in the history of the universe, when our cosmos was only 800 million years old.

This presents a bit of a challenge, since the only way we know how to make black holes is for giant stars to die. Then, those small black holes (usually only a few times more massive than the sun) need to grow, either by feeding on surrounding material or merging with other black holes.

That’s fine, but for the supermassive black holes to appear so early, it means that these processes have to go unnervingly fast after the formation of the first stars – perhaps too fast.

But what the early universe lacked in stars it more than made up for in dark matter, the mysterious substance that makes up 85% of all the mass in the universe.

It’s possible, according to new research led by Carlos R. Argüelles at the Universidad Nacional de La Plata and ICRANet, that dark matter itself grew dense enough to collapse directly into black holes in the early universe, skipping the usual star-based story.

According to Argüelles, “This new formation scenario may offer a natural explanation for how supermassive black holes formed in the early Universe, without requiring prior star formation or needing to invoke seed black holes with unrealistic accretion rates.”

As a further consequence of this model, the smallest galaxies wouldn’t have giant black holes. Instead, they would just have ultra-dense cores of dark matter.

“Here we’ve proven for the first time that such core–halo dark matter distributions can indeed form in a cosmological framework, and remain stable for the lifetime of the Universe,” added Argüelles.

Paul M. Sutter

Astrophysicist, Author, Host | pmsutter.com

Recent Posts

Starlinks Can Produce Surprisingly Bright Flares to Pilots

How can sunlight reflecting off SpaceX’s Starlink satellites interfere with ground-based operations? This is what…

8 hours ago

A Weather Satellite Watched a Space Rock Burn Up Above Spain and Portugal

It's been a momentous May for skywatchers around the world. First the big auroral event…

14 hours ago

Galaxies in the Early Universe Preferred their Food Cold

One of the main objectives of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is to study…

17 hours ago

A New Way to Measure the Rotation of Black Holes

Sometimes, astronomers get lucky and catch an event they can watch to see how the…

1 day ago

Could Martian atmospheric samples teach us more about the Red Planet than surface samples?

NASA is actively working to return surface samples from Mars in the next few years,…

2 days ago

Black Holes are Firing Beams of Particles, Changing Targets Over Time

Black holes seem to provide endless fascination to astronomers. This is at least partly due…

2 days ago