A rare trio of supermassive black holes spotted as three galaxies collide
- A new study shares the discovery of three
supermassive black holeson a feeding frenzy, as they edge closer together.
- The unusual system of supermassive black holes was spotted by multiple observatories across the world.
- The discovery offers a new way to study how galaxies merge and grow as well as a new method to spot trios of supermassive black holes in other parts of the universe.
The unusual system, SDSS J0849+1114, was spotted by several observatories around the world, according to National Aeronautics and Space Administration ( NASA).
The collective images of the supermassive black holes show that more than one of them is on a feeding frenzy.
"This is the strongest evidence yet found for such a triple system of actively feeding supermassive black holes," said Ryan Pfeifle, the lead author of the study published in The Astrophysical Journal.
Located a billion light years away from Earth, the collision doesn't pose any threat to the planet.
Tearing through the veil
It's not that other trios of supermassive black holes don't exist but it's difficult for astronomers to spot them since they are likely to be hidden by gas and dust that they feed on.
The density of the material would block out most of the light.
In fact, computer simulations by NASA show that 16% of double supermassive black holes in colliding galaxies interacted with a third supermassive black hole, along the way.
This particular trio of supermassive black holes was first spotted by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) telescope. Scientists from the Galaxy Zoo project then tagged it as a system of colliding galaxies.
AdvertisementThe discovery was confirmed by NASA's Wide-field Survey Explorer (WISE), the Chandra telescope and the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT).
Since these three instruments use infrared and infrared spectra to capture images, it easier for them to pierce through the material in comparison to using optical light.
"Through the use of these major observaties, we have identified a new way of identifying triple supermassive black holes," said Pfeifle.
The significance of the discovery is that three supermassive black holes behave very differently from single or dual systems of supermassive black holes. But, they are still a 'natural consequence' of galaxy mergers, according to NASA.
Theory of the 'final parsec problem' states that the existence of third supermassive black hole can accelerate the merging of the other two supermassive black holes.
Knowing how to spot triple supermassive black holes could provide clues into how galaxies merge and grow. Especially, since the merger of supermassive black holes produce ripples in space called gravitational waves.
These waves carry information about their origins and aren't affected by alterations as they travel through intergalactic space.
Supermassive black hole is eating meals worth four Moons thrice a day
Supermassive black holes grew from mysterious 'seeds' that are yet to be found
Incredible animation shows just how big supermassive black holes can get
Popular on BI
- I've had the new iPhone 14 for 2 weeks. I should've listened to Steve Jobs' daughter because I now regret buying it.
- China tells state banks to prepare for a massive dollar dump and yuan buying spree as Beijing's prior interventions have failed to stem its currency's worst year since 1994
- Airtel 5G launched in eight cities, entire country to be covered by 2024
- IISC joins hands with AIIMS Rishikesh to develop algorithm that can read brain scans to detect epilepsy
- Overlapping symptoms of dengue, Covid-19 confusing in many cases, say doctors
- Sterlite Technologies launches optical solution for 5G rollout
- NASA pushes back Artemis I Moon mission launch to November
- Auto sales jump in September: Maruti reports over a 100% jump in volumes