Oddly enough, the Universe hasn’t been around forever. It had a beginning, and it will have an ending. Most astronomers and astrophysicists agree that the beginning was marked by the Big Bang event that occurred roughly 13.7 billion years ago.
Shortly after the Big Bang, about 750 million years (and yes, that really means “shortly” at an astronomical scale), the object dubbed GNz7q formed. We’re talking about the “ancestor” of a supermassive black hole, as astronomers consider it, and they began its investigation, according to Space.com. If the object still exists today, we would have to travel about 13 billion light-years to reach it. As far as astronomers know, no spacecraft can travel such distances. But if, by any chance, you’ve secretly invented one, please don’t keep the secret to yourself and share it with us in the comment section!
A galaxy or a quasar?
Astronomers aren’t even sure at this point what the GNz7q object is. It has elements of both a galaxy and a quasar.
Seiji Fujimoto, the lead study author, declared:
The discovered object connects two rare populations of celestial objects, namely dusty starbursts and luminous quasars, and thereby provides a new avenue toward understanding the rapid growth of supermassive black holes in the early universe.
Gabriel Brammer, an Associate Professor from the Niels Bohr Institute, explained:
Understanding how supermassive black holes form and grow in the early universe has become a major mystery. Theorists have predicted that these black holes undergo an early phase of rapid growth: a dust-reddened compact object emerges from a heavily dust-obscured starburst galaxy, then transitions to an unobscured luminous compact object by expelling the surrounding gas and dust.
Astronomers believe that most galaxies out there have a supermassive black hole at their core. It’s also the case of the Milky Way, the galaxy where Earth is located.