Observations in the past few decades have revealed that every galaxy harbors a SMBH in the center, and that the black hole mass is almost always one-thousandth of the host galaxy mass. This close relationship implies that galaxies and SMBHs have co-evolved together. Revealing the origin of SMBHs is thus crucial not only to understand SMBHs themselves, but also to elucidate the formation processes of galaxies, the major constituents of the visible universe.
In order to close in on the origin of SMBHs, we need to observe them and compare their properties with predictions fromWe used the Subaru Telescope at the top of Maunakea, Hawaii, for the present study. One of the biggest advantages of Subaru is its widefield observing capability, which is particularly suited for our purpose.
The large number of quasars we discovered has allowed us to determine the most fundamental measure called the"luminosity function," which describes the space density of quasars as a function of radiation energy. We found that quasars were forming very rapidly in the early universe, while the overall shape of the luminosity function (except for the amplitude) remained unchanged over time.
This characteristic behavior of the luminosity function provides strong constraints on theoretical models, which could ultimately reproduce all the observables and describe the origin of SMBHs. Our study is published inOn the other hand, the universe was known to have experienced a major phase transition called"cosmic reionization" in its early stage. Past observations suggest that the whole intergalactic space was ionized in this event.
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