NASA: Super-red massive black hole from early universe catches JWST's eye

Nasa's newly discovered super-red black hole appearance of early universe-lensed quasar

By Web Desk
February 27, 2024
A representational image of a super-red black hole. —Dan Wilkins/File

An "extremely red" supermassive black hole may have existed in the early cosmos, as per the analysis of photos taken with the James Webb Space Telescope.

Scientists suggest that the black hole's red colour results from its position behind a thick layer of dust that blocks out most of the light it emits, according to Interesting Engineering.


“We were very excited when JWST started sending its first data. We were scanning the data that arrived for the UNCOVER programme and three very compact yet red-blooming objects prominently stood out and caught our eyes,” said Lukas Furtak, a postdoctoral researcher and the lead author from the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.

The object has the appearance of an early universe-lensed quasar. Supermassive black holes provide energy to quasars, which are bright, active galactic nuclei.

“Their “red-dot” appearance immediately led us to suspect that it was a quasar-like object,” added Furtak

Extremely precise photos of the field of the Abell 2744 galaxy cluster were taken by the space telescope.

This cluster's large mass causes spacetime to curve, which modifies the pathways taken by light beams as they travel through it. In a sense, this phenomenon serves as a gravitational lens.

Consequently, the gravitational lensing effect makes background galaxies behind the cluster look more prominent.

Because of this special gravitational lensing, astronomers may now use telescopes to study and observe galaxies that would not otherwise be accessible.