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JWST discovers offset supermassive black holes merging in the early Universe

Published on:

6 December 2023

Primary Category:

Astrophysics of Galaxies

Paper Authors:

Hannah Übler,

Roberto Maiolino,

Pablo G. Pérez-González,

Francesco D'Eugenio,

Michele Perna,

Mirko Curti,

Santiago Arribas,

Andrew Bunker,

Stefano Carniani,

Stéphane Charlot,

Bruno Rodríguez Del Pino,

William Baker,

Torsten Böker,

Giovanni Cresci,

James Dunlop,

Norman A. Grogin,

Gareth C. Jones,

Nimisha Kumari,

Isabella Lamperti,

Nicolas Laporte,

Madeline A. Marshall,

Giovanni Mazzolari,

Eleonora Parlanti,

Tim Rawle,

Jan Scholtz,

Giacomo Venturi,

Joris Witstok

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Key Details

JWST/NIRSpec-IFU spectroscopy reveals offset broad and narrow AGN signatures in z=7.15 galaxy

Offset broad H-beta emission indicates supermassive black hole with mass log(M/Msun)~7.7

Velocity offset narrow line region likely hosts obscured second supermassive black hole

Dual AGN system supports idea of frequent high-z supermassive black hole merging

Imminent black hole merger makes system a compelling gravitational wave source

AI generated summary

JWST discovers offset supermassive black holes merging in the early Universe

This paper presents JWST observations of a galaxy at redshift 7.15 that reveal evidence of two supermassive black holes caught in the act of merging, only 740 million years after the Big Bang. One black hole is traced by offset broad Balmer emission indicating a broad line region, while the other likely resides in a separate host galaxy traced by strong optical emission lines with an offset velocity. If confirmed, this dual AGN system supports the idea that frequent black hole merging was an important mechanism enabling rapid supermassive black hole growth in the early Universe. The imminent merger also makes this a compelling target for studying strong gravitational wave signals from the early Universe.

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