DiscoveryNews: Did Dark Stars Spawn Supermassive Black Holes

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DiscoveryNews: Did Dark Stars Spawn Supermassive Black Holes

Post by bystander » Sun Feb 14, 2010 3:49 pm

Did 'Dark Stars' Spawn Supermassive Black Holes?
Discovery News - 2010 Feb 13
Approximately 200 million years after the Big Bang, the universe was a very different place.

For starters, there was no starlight as there were no stars. This period was known descriptively as the "Dark Ages." As there were no stars, only clouds of the most basic elements persisted, fogging up the cosmos.

Although it's believed the first stars (known as "Population III stars") were sparked when hydrogen and helium gases cooled enough to clump together, collapsing under gravity and initiating nuclear fusion in the star cores (thus generating heavier elements), there's another possibility.

Around the time of early star formation it is thought there was an abundance of dark matter. Although it's not entirely clear what dark matter actually is, we know from various observations that it's out there in vast quantities. Dark matter makes up the majority of the mass of our universe and during these early days, dark matter may have fueled the earliest stars.

This may sound a little strange, but it gets even stranger than that.
Image
A massive dark star voraciously eating matter and dark matter until it is well over 100,000 times the mass of the sun (NASA/Ian O'Neill)

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SciAm: Dark Side of Black Holes

Post by bystander » Tue Feb 16, 2010 11:48 pm

Dark Side of Black Holes: Dark Matter Could Explain the Early Universe's Giant Black Holes
From the March 2010 Scientific American Magazine
Massive black holes should not have existed in a universe less than one billion years old, yet they did.

Black holes one billion times the sun’s mass or more lie at the heart of many galaxies, driving their spin and development. Common today, some 14 billion years after the big bang, such supermassive black holes were rare in the early universe—or at least they were supposed to be. Evidence of supermassive black holes existing when the universe was less than one billion years old has stumped scientists, because current theories of stellar evolution suggest that such giants should take much longer to grow. Now it seems this enigma could be solved by a mystery substance—dark matter.