The James Webb Space Telescope is the “perfect time machine” to dig out the secrets of the black hole seeds and the baby universe, says NASA.
The NASA James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is about to start its spectacular journey of space exploration. As the world awaits the first images captured by the most powerful space telescope to ever exist, there are already different missions planned for the JWST. A group of scientists will be looking at the high star-density areas to get a better idea of how these celestial bodies interact. Another, and a very interesting mission the Webb Space Telescope will be undertaking would be to observe and reveal more information around black holes, and particularly the supermassive black holes. And why? It’s because scientists believe this could be our window to the origin of the universe. Also read: James Webb Space Telescope hit by an asteroid! Will it survive?
Recently, the Event Horizon Telescope captured a historic image of Sagittarius A* (pronounced Sagittarius A-star), a supermassive black hole that resides right at the center of our galaxy, the Milky Way. While the image is a blurry and pixelated orange halo like structure, it has excited scientists beyond belief because a black hole of this size hiding in plain sight within a galaxy is a very rare phenomena. And now, the JWST, with its more powerful lenses, can take much clearer images of it to help scientists learn more about the black hole.
NASA James Webb Space Telescope can be a “perfect time machine”
The discovery of the black hole has however raised more questions than it has answered. And the biggest puzzle is around its age. Also read: NASA to launch 3 rockets from private Australian space port
“An intriguing recent finding has been the discovery of hyper-massive black holes, with masses of several billion solar masses, already in place when the universe was only about 700 million years old — a small fraction of its current age of 13.8 billion years…This is a puzzling result, as at such early epochs, there is not enough time to grow such hyper-massive black holes, according to standard theories,” Roberto Maiolino, a member of the Near-Infrared Spectrograph (NIRSpec) instrument science team for the James Webb Space Telescope said in a NASA blog post.
The standard theory here refers to our understanding of how a black hole forms. We understand that black holes are created after a large star burns up the last of its energy and then collapses into itself creating a high density structure with extremely high gravitational force, which we know as a black hole. The only problem? The Sagittarius A* is very close to the birth of the universe so there could not have been enough time for a star to undergo all these stages. And this is where the NASA James Webb Space Telescope comes in.
Maiolino believes that JWST will open up a new discovery space in this region. He said, “It is possible that the first black hole seeds originally formed in the ‘baby universe,’ within just a few million years after the Big Bang. Webb is the perfect ‘time machine’ to learn about these primeval objects. Its exceptional sensitivity makes Webb capable of detecting extremely distant galaxies, and because of the time required for the light emitted by the galaxies to travel to us, we will see them as they were in the remote past”.