LIFESTYLE

For The First Billion Years The Universe Had No Light In It, Then Something Changed

Let there be light 💡

31/08/2017 12:31 BST

When you think about the Big Bang, a moment of dramatic expansion that allowed the universe to exist as we know it, you don’t tend to imagine total impenetrable darkness.

But soon after the cosmic-defining event, our universe was plunged into complete blackness for perhaps as long as one billion years, until it was gradually able to emerge again and fill up with planets and stars that give off light.

But what exactly triggered our universe to emerge from the darkness is still a mystery.

Nick Northern / EyeEm via Getty Images

Now researchers at the University of Iowa have offered an explanation as to how this might have happened, and it’s all down to a black hole.

Black holes, which are embedded deep in universes, have such a strong gravitational pull that they suck in all the floating matter around them, but what if they are also ejecting objects and light too?

This is the theory proposed after the team observed ‘Tol 1247-232’ galaxy, located 600 million light years away from earth, which is leaking ultraviolet light from an unidentified source.

They previously speculated that this source could be a star, but as the level of light keeps changing, which stars do not do, it had to be something else.

Instead Professor Philip Kaaret speculated that it is a smaller object such as a black hole, not traditionally known for generating matter, but could actually be in this instance.

Kaaret said: “As matter falls into a black hole, it starts to spin and the rapid rotation pushes some fraction of the matter out...they’re producing these strong winds that could be opening an escape route for ultraviolet light.”

And this is exactly what could have happened with the early galaxies, allowing them to light up after millennia spent in darkness.

Kaaret said: “It’s possible the black hole is creating winds that help the ionizing radiation from the stars escape. Thus, black holes may have helped make the universe transparent.” 

This isn’t the first time scientists have encountered a black hole throwing out objects, as HuffPost UK previously reported the supermassive black hole parked in the middle of the Milky Way, known as Sagittarius A, was regurgitating the stars it was meant to be swallowing.  

Eden Girma, who announced the findings at the American Astronomical Society’s annual meeting, said that every 10,000 years or so when a star gets sucked in to the black hole, the resulting stuff doesn’t stay destroyed forever, instead it reconnects to be regurgitated. 

NASA says that black holes form when the centre of a massive star collapses in on itself, after running out of fuel, scientists think that supermassive black holes are formed at the same time as the galaxy they are in.