The cosmic dance of two black holes

Using data from WISE and the comments of the Australian Telescope Compact Array Telescope and the Gemini South , researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory have discovered a remote galaxy that hosts a couple of black holes in the gravitationally core bound. The study can be found in the Astrophysical Journal.




Two supermassive black holes that run around each other hugging each other in a grand cosmic dance are at the center of a remote galaxy. This is the new discovery of a team of astronomers led by Chao- Wei Tsai’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory of NASA, whose research was published in the Astrophysical Journal.

The vast majority of galaxies host a central supermassive black hole mass with variables that also come to several billion times that of the Sun. When two galaxies collide, they can get to fuse together, forming a nucleus even more impressive, consisting of a binary system of black holes. These objects are usually very difficult to observe, even with the most powerful telescopes.

Chao- Wei Tsai and colleagues have traced this new pair of black holes, picking up and analyzing a series of better data from the Wide- field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE), infrared probe sent into retirement in 2011. Unlike the binary systems – or assumed – so far observed, this new pair of black holes (code name: WISE J233237.05 – 505643.5) has the distinction of being in a rather remote region of the Universe, at a distance of 3.8 billion light-years from Earth.

When they have found this anomaly in the cosmic data of WISE, the researchers decided to go to better control the host galaxy using new observations of the Australian Telescope Compact Array and the Gemini South telescope in Chile. The litmus test of the existence of the binary system just came from some peculiar features detected by two telescopes in the jets of the galaxy in question.

The supermassive black holes at the center of galaxies generally emit huge jets of plasma from the rather simple geometry along an axis. In this case, however, the structure of the jets showed pace in a zig-zag pattern that scientists have just interpreted as a sign of the existence of two holes blacks in the nucleus of the galaxy. “We think the casting of the first black hole is modified and done by the presence of the second wave, as in a dance with the band,” said Chao- Wei Tsai remaining in the metaphor of the dance. “If so, it is likely that the two black holes are quite close and gravitationally bound.”

Already trapped in their gravitational tango but still far from inevitable fusion that awaits them, the two black holes are circling at a distance of a few light-years. It is a rather rare situation, which could provide a privileged window for the study of the evolution of supermassive black holes before their marriage.

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