Astronomers unveil growing black holes in colliding galaxies

  • Astronomers unveil growing black holes in colliding galaxies

Astronomers unveil growing black holes in colliding galaxies

Some of the most powerful objects in the entire universe are black holes.

The statement adds that the growth of the black holes comes from the last 10 to 20 million years of the merged galaxy, and expects that over the next 10 million years, the black holes will merge "to form a more massive black hole".

"Seeing the pairs of merging galaxy nuclei associated with these huge black holes so close together was pretty fantastic", Michael Koss, one of the researchers who studied the images, said in a release.

"Seeing the pairs of merging galaxy nuclei associated with these huge black holes so close together was pretty wonderful", said Michael Koss, co-author of the new study published in the journal Nature.

Then scientists found galaxies that are coincident with this x-ray data, after examining the pictures of the Hubble telescope and the Keck Observatory in Hawaii.

The images also provide a close-up preview of a phenomenon that must have been more common in the early universe, when galaxy mergers were more frequent.

The images released by NASA may also offer some more insight into another galactic collision that will occur "next door", but also in several billion years when our beloved Milky Way merges with neighboring Andromeda galaxy.

Astronomers suspect that supermassive black holes lurk at the heart of every sizable galaxy, holding the galactic fiber together.

To peer through all the matter that obscures supermassive black holes, scientists combed through a huge catalog of 10 years' worth of X-ray measurements taken by the Burst Alert Telescope (BAT) aboard NASA's Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory.

In total, 96 galaxies were observed with the Keck telescope and 385 galaxies from the Hubble archive.

"We then used the superior laser capability of Keck Observatory's AO system to perform high-resolution, near-infrared imaging to distinctly see a double nucleus through the gas and dust and uncover the hidden mergers".

Michael Koss, a research scientist at Eureka Scientific Inc, said: "Seeing the pairs of merging galaxy nuclei associated with these huge black holes so close together was pretty incredible..."

The new work was detailed online today (Nov. 7) in the journal Nature.

"Computer simulations of galaxy smashups show us that black holes grow fastest during the final stages of mergers, near the time when the black holes interact, and that's what we have found in our survey", said Laura Blecha, an assistant professor of physics at the University of Florida and a co-author of the study. In approximately six billion years the process will be complete and a single elliptical galaxy will be born. "The fact that black holes grow faster and faster as mergers progress tells us galaxy encounters are really important for our understanding of how these objects got to be so monstrously big".

It's not easy to find galaxy nuclei so close together.

That research suggested that black holes at the cores of colliding galaxies may combine to become even larger black holes.

Like a siren before a tsunami, gravitational waves reach Earth slightly earlier than light.

Something similar is expected to happen when our Milky Way galaxy crashes with the nearby Andromeda galaxy, though it's not expected to happen anytime soon, the researchers said. "Simulations reveal that galaxies kick up plenty of gas and dust as they undergo this slow-motion train wreck".

Gravitational waves are considered ripples in the fabric of spacetime.

An even better view of mergers in dusty, heavily obscured galaxies may come from NASA's highly anticipated James Webb Space Telescope, slated for launch in 2021. Keck AO has imaged the four massive planets orbiting the star HR8799, measured the mass of the giant black hole at the center of our Milky Way Galaxy, discovered new supernovae in distant galaxies, and identified the specific stars that were their progenitors.