Ultra-Rare Black Hole Deals a Big Blow to Big Bang?

That title was fun to write. :smiley:

As I’ve been paying attention to cosmology news coming across my news feed in the last months or two, I was wondering if we’re going to start to see things older than the supposed age of the universe…or ones impossible in the Big Bang Model. Looks like we’re at the start of that. Very fun.

A team of European astronomers say they’ve found an extremely-rare class of black hole — and it threatens to undermine the way scientists thought galaxies evolve over time.

Basically, the scientists found a galaxy with a blazar — a supermassive black hole spewing out jets of gamma radiation — at its core. It’s the most distant blazar of this particular class ever found, and because looking across vast distances in space is like peering back in time, the team concluded that they’re seeing the galaxy as it was when the universe was just 1.7 billion years old. [nicely unpacked]

That’s an issue. This galaxy contains a BL Lacertae (BL Lac) blazar, which is thought to be what younger Flat-Spectrum Radio-Quasars (FSRQs) gradually develop into as they age. But this new BL Lac is much younger than any other, creating problems for that timeline.


One of the major challenges in studying the cosmic evolution of relativistic jets is the identification of the high-redshift ( z > 3) BL Lacertae objects (BL Lacs), a class of jetted active galactic nuclei characterized by their quasi-featureless optical spectra. Here we report the identification of the first γ -ray emitting BL Lac, 4FGL J1219.0+3653 (J1219), beyond z = 3, i.e., within the first two billion years of the age of the universe. The optical and near-infrared spectra of J1219 taken from 10.4 m Gran Telescopio Canarias exhibit no emission lines down to an equivalent width of ~3.5 Å supporting its BL Lac nature. The detection of a strong Ly α break at ~5570 Å, on the other hand, confirms that J2119 is indeed a high-redshift ( z ~ 3.59) quasar. Based on the prediction of a recent BL Lac evolution model, J1219 is one of the only two such objects expected to be present within the comoving volume at z = 3.5. Future identifications of more z > 3 γ -ray emitting BL Lac sources, therefore, will be crucial to verify the theories of their cosmic evolution.

Added a question mark to the title. Hope that is not inappropriate. It seems to me Valerie (or someone) should explain how “big bang” theory is undermined by this discovery prior to making the assertion.

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From the press release:

Now, the team of international scientists has discovered a new BL Lac object, named 4FGL J1219.0+3653, much farther away than the previous record holder. “We have discovered a BL Lac existing even 800 million years earlier, this is when the Universe was less than 2 billion years old,” states Cristina Cabello, a graduate student at IPARCOS-UCM. “This finding challenges the current scenario that BL Lacs are actually an evolved phase of FSRQ,” adds Nicolás Cardiel, a professor at IPARCOS-UCM. Jesús Gallego, also a professor at the same institution and a co-author of the study concludes: "This discovery has challenged our knowledge of the cosmic evolution of blazars and active galaxies in general."

That’s not saying anything about the Big Bang, but rather our understanding of how these galaxies evolve.

The last two sentences of the abstract lead me to think there is an unconfirmed hypothesis for how the evolve, since they mention verifying a theory.

Based on the prediction of a recent BL Lac evolution model, J1219 is one of the only two such objects expected to be present within the comoving volume at z = 3.5. Future identifications of more z > 3 γ -ray emitting BL Lac sources, therefore, will be crucial to verify the theories of their cosmic evolution.



This reminds me of the “Methuselah” star, which, according to some models, appears to be 200 million years older than the universe itself.

Young-earthers love things such as this. But do they prove that the universe could be just six thousand years old after all? They don’t come anywhere close.

The discrepancy in the apparent age of the Methuselah star is just two percent. This black hole only calls into question the fine details of one particular model of galactic evolution. That is a far, far cry from proving that millions of other studies using dozens of different methods could all be consistently out of whack by six or seven orders of magnitude.

This is something that young-earth apologists simply don’t seem to understand. You cannot overturn whole fields of scientific understanding in their entirety merely by nibbling away at fine details. You cannot claim that a minority of discrepancies of a few percent prove that vast swathes of studies could be consistently out by a factor of a million. You cannot claim that pushing dating methods to their limits proves that they are all completely and consistently broken when used well within their operational parameters as well.

It’s very easy, if you’re a young-earth zealot approaching science as if you were on some kind of ammunition-gathering exercise, trying to find bricks to throw at “evolutionists,” to get carried away and latch onto things such as these, and completely lose sight of their perspective. But science simply does not work like that. Neither does anything else, for that matter.


Thanks I wasn’t aware of this one.

Well yes, but make sure too that you’re aware that it isn’t evidence for a young earth, and that it doesn’t pose a problem for the Big Bang, for the reasons that I’ve stated.

I don’t mind the question mark, though I don’t think it’s needed.

Notice what I quoted here.

From what I’ve understood about cosmology, after inflation, matter supposedly continued to clump up and form larger structures, which merged etc. As they “look back in time,” they should see less structure and smaller objects. This one is supermassive and very “young.” at the “cosmic dawn.” It’s a square peg in a round hole.

After reading Flatland it seemed intuitively obvious to me (could easily be wrong :sweat_smile:) that black holes have dimensions other than Einstein’s spacetime. It’s very weird to me that scientists or anywhere on the internet is not mentioning this as a possibility. Light gets sucked in so that it disappears and it gets bent around. I’m just wondering if it’s because other-dimensional objects don’t make sense in a Big Bang Model. So I’m happy to see the model fall, if it does; it will lead to more discoveries :grinning:

ICYMI, this is awesome :star_struck: Spaghettification seems to be non-spacetime behavior too. That has to be the grossest, best word in the sciences :slight_smile:

Just out of curiosity, are you able to have a discussion without slamming YEC?

Fair enough.

Just out of curiosity, would you expect me to discuss a flat earth without slamming it?


Follow-up to this in case anyone is interested:

I’d like to know if the percentages of types of galaxies overall are different than “older” ones.

Cool either way.

Can’t wait for the James Webb space telescope. Very interested in the compositions, sizes etc. of the inferred first generation stars.

Of course, if lots of good measurements imply the oldest stars are older than current models of the universe it’s possible the models will have to be adjusted to accomodate this. That is of course how science is supposed to work: The models are adjusted to fit the observations, not the other way around.
That said, it should also be stated that inferring ages of stars also depends on models of stellar evolution, and it’s possible there are aspects of the evolution of stars that aren’t all that well understood either.

I still some times like to recall that when I was 5 years old we didn’t have any good evidence that there were planets around other stars. They were entirely hypothetical. Today we know of many thousands and the numbers are increasing every year.

We live in exciting times.