An international team of astronomers has predicted the existence of a new class of supernovae, arising from the explosion of a supermassive star and leading to the appearance of a huge black hole.

The study of the formation of supermassive black holes is an important topic in modern astrophysics. Leading theory suggests that the seeds of supermassive black holes formed after the death of the first massive stars in the early universe. They then continued to accumulate surrounding gas and finally turned into supermassive black holes. However, this theory has been challenged. The fact is that the mass of the most massive stars observed in the local universe is 100-200 solar masses. They would not be able to maintain a high level of accretion of matter.

In a new article published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, researchers have revealed the possible existence of a supernova class. Their progenitors were stars with a mass of tens of thousands of Suns. They existed in small numbers in the early universe. Modeling of these objects showed that during the upcoming mission of the James Webb Space Telescope, scientists have a chance to observe such a supernova, which in this case will confirm the theory of the mechanism of the appearance of supermassive black holes.

Recall that a supermassive black hole is a black hole with a mass of 105–1011 solar masses. Supermassive black holes are found at the center of many galaxies, including the Milky Way. Paradoxically, the average density of a supermassive black hole (calculated by dividing the mass of a black hole by its Schwarzschild volume) can be very small (even less than the density of air in the lower atmosphere of the Earth). This is because the Schwarzschild radius is directly proportional to mass, and density is inversely proportional to volume.