Published: Fri, July 12, 2019
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

Astronomers discover two supermassive Black Holes are on a collision course

Astronomers discover two supermassive Black Holes are on a collision course

The black holes, each of which is over 800 million times as massive as our own Sun, are on an irreversible path. Their collision course seems to be a spiral, as they gradually draw closer to one another.

Using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers have discovered a disc very close to a starving black hole - something that should not be there - based on current astronomical theories. This provides black holes with such unimaginably powerful gravitational fields nothing - even light - can escape. Black holes, which are impossible to actually see, give their position away thanks to the galaxies that often surround them, but a new survey has revealed a black hole with a disc of material that, according to what we think we know about black holes, shouldn't even be there. "For everyone in black hole physics, observationally it is a lengthy-standing puzzle that we need to solve". After the researchers pointed the Hubble Space Telescope at the galaxy to uncover the origins of its spectacular gas clouds, they discovered that the system contained not one but two massive black holes.

"It is a major embarrassment for astronomy that we do not know if supermassive black holes merge", said Jenny Greene, a professor of astrophysical sciences at Princeton and co-creator of the examine.

The gravitational waves generated by supermassive black hole pairs are outside the frequencies now observable by experiments such as LIGO and Virgo.

"If the gravitational wave background is not detected this could indicate that supermassive black holes merge only over extremely long timescales, remaining as close separation binaries for many Hubble times, the so-called 'final-parsec problem, '" write the researchers.

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"If the gravitational wave background just isn't detected this might indicate that supermassive black holes merge exclusively over extremely long timescales, remaining as shut separation binaries for a lot of Hubble times, the so-called 'final-parsec problem, '" write the researchers. If a passing gravitational wave stretches or compresses the space between Earth and the pulsar, the rhythm will be thrown off slightly. But bigger black holes also merge faster, reducing the window during which gravitational waves may be detected.

If the final parsec problem doesn't exist, then astronomers expect that the universe is filled with the clamor of gravitational waves from supermassive black hole pairs. Only a few hundred nanoseconds might disrupt a single pulsar's rhythm over a decade. Astrophysicists predict this orbit tightens and the black holes merge over time. The disc is so deeply embedded in the black hole's gravitational field that the light from the disc is being altered, giving astronomers a look into the dynamic processes close to a black hole.

The observationalists then teamed up with gravitational wave physicists Mingarelli and Princeton graduate student Kris Pardo to interpret the finding in the context of the gravitational wave background.

The disc's material was measured by Hubble to be whirling around the black hole at more than 10 percent of the speed of light.

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