The researchers from the university’s centre for Astrophysics and Relativity have been key in the breakthrough discovery of a new pathway for the existence of massive black holes in the universe.
For 13 billion light years, the intense light from the most distant black holes in the universe is able to reach our telescopes, allowing us to look back to the early universe according to the researchers.
“It became clear that there were certain factors in the results of the stimulation where we thought that’s a bit weird,” said Prof. Turlough Downes on how they came across the discovery.
“I feel like the most significant scientific discoveries happen from going ‘oh that’s peculiar and looking into it’,” he added.
Dr. John Regan and Prof. Turlough Downes from DCU, in collaboration with a research team from Georgia Institute of Technology, Michigan State University, the University of California at San Diego, the San Diego Supercomputer Centre and IBM made this incredible scientific discovery.
This research is conducted by simulating the formation of galaxies using supercomputers.
The work done by all of the teams shows that when galaxies assemble at an extremely rapid pace and sometimes violently, it can lead to the formation of a large black hole.
The rapid assembly of gas occurring leads to embryonic stars becoming puffed up by hot gas which leads to the formation of a “supermassive” star instead of the formation of a normal star.
These “supermassive” stars can only survive for a short time before collapsing into a large black hole.
The new study combatted the long-accepted belief that massive black hole formation, which occurred in the early universe, only happened in regions bombarded by powerful radiation from other nearby galaxies.
This scientific discovery turns that model upside down, and opens up a whole new area of research, according to Dr John Regan.
Professor Downes spoke about the importance of this for the university by stating that DCU “is operating at a world-class level in this area and this makes DCU attractive to future student and staff.”
“The team’s findings were funded by NASA, the EU and the US National Science Foundation and their research was published in the journal ‘Nature’, the most prestigious scientific journal,” he continued.