A view of several telescopes in sub-regions J084905.51+111447.2, a system of three merging galaxies is approximately 1 billion light-years away from Earth. The system has three supermassive black holes on a collision course, a new study reports. (Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/George Mason Univ./R. Pfeifle et al.; Optical: SDSS & NASA/STScI.)
A rare trio of supermassive black holes has been caught in the very act of coming together.
Three of the light-gobbling monsters nuzzle the shoulder-to-shoulder in the SDSS J084905.51+111447.2, a system of three merging galaxies at 1 billion light-years away from Earth, a new study reports.
“We were looking for pairs of black holes and dark matter over time, however, our selection technique, we stumbled upon this amazing system,” lead author Ryan Pfeifle, George Mason University, Virginia, said in a statement. “This is the strongest evidence was found for a three-part system of actively feeding supermassive black holes.”
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The making of an epic was not easy; it took the observations made by several instruments and with the help of many citizen scientists.
The course started with the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) telescope in New Mexico, which is the replication of the SDS J084905.51+111447.2 in optical light. Volunteers in the citizen science project Galaxy Zoo, and then used it to flag the system as an ongoing galaxy merger.
In addition, the researchers looked at data collected by NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) spacecraft. WAY, spied on a lot of infra-red light from the system is at a stage of the completion of the merger is more than one, the supermassive black holes are expected to be accreting material that, the researchers said.
Further observations of the X-ray and optical light, which closed the deal. NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory detected strong sources of X-ray light in the vicinity of each of the merging galaxies’ centres, indicate that many of the cloud of gas and dust is used up, there will be a sign of a black-hole to feed.
NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array spacecraft, or nustar, also saw evidence of a cloud of gas and dust circling the supermassive black hole. The optical light of the information that is gathered by the SDSS and for the Large Binocular Telescope in Arizona, and is further reinforced with the idea that all three of the black holes were involved.
“Due to the use of these great observatories, we have established a new method of identification of a triple supermassive black-holes,” Pfeifle said. Each telescope gives us a different idea about what is going on in these systems. We hope to extend our work to find triple rooms, all with the help of the same technology.”
The distance between each of the supermassive black hole and the nearest neighbor ranges from 10,000 light-years to 30,000 light-years away, study team members said. But that span will be shrinking, as the black holes appear to be tied to the merger, as well as their parent galaxies, which is now in the process.
Astronomers have to know a little bit about how black holes collide with each other; in fact, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) has been determined, that the gravitational waves are generated by a number of black hole mergers. But in a three-way system is probably a little different than the traditional one, to merge them, the researchers said.
For example, in the immediate presence of a third supermassive black hole from its two neighbors to come together much more quickly.
“This could be a solution to a theoretical problem, which is called the” final parsec problem, ” in which two supermassive black holes can approach to within a few light years of each other, but it should have some extra pull to the inside to get it, because of the excess energy that they carry with them into their jobs,” officials on the Chandra mission, who wrote in the same statement. “The influence of a third black hole, as in the SDSS J0849+1114, was finally able to bring them together.”
Neither LIGO nor Europe is in a similar to Virgin, the project is able to detect the gravitational waves are produced by the mergers of supermassive black holes, by the way. The frequency of which is outside the scope of both the LIGO and Virgo, which are aligned on the gravitational waves generated by the much smaller stellar-mass black holes.
In the new study, which appears in the latest issue of The Astrophysical Journal. You can read a preprint of the paper free of charge arXiv.org.
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This story was originally published on Space.com.