New Photo Of Andromeda Galaxy Shows Massive Black Holes

02 Diciembre, 2017, 00:06 | Author: Enrique Watson
  • Black hole pair

Andromeda is our closest neighbouring galaxy, sitting around 2.5 million light years away.

The binary system is the most closely orbiting pair of black holes of their kind we have ever seen.

Scientists used data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and optical telescopes on the ground to identify this unexpected member in Andromeda's images. "We were surprised and excited to find something far stranger", said study lead Trevor Dorn Wallenstein.

Astronomers observing the nearest galaxy to the Milky Way have captured an astonishing "cosmic photobomb" of two supermassive black holes situated nearly side-by-side. Rather, J0045+41 had to be either a binary system in M31 containing a neutron star or black hole that is pulling material from a companion - the sort of system Dorn-Wallenstein was originally searching for in M31 - or a much more massive and distant system that contains at least one rapidly growing supermassive black hole.

But that would have satisfied as an answer only if J0045+41 was located inside M31. Now, what was once thought to be a pair of orbiting stars in the spiral Andromeda Galaxy - also known as M1 - is being reclassified as twin black holes.

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Chandra's X-ray data about the object showed that the stellar system had to have a black hole or neutron star.

The two supermassive black holes are nearly certainly being drawn together by mutual gravitational attraction. The ratio between these periods matches that predicted by theoretical work on the dynamics of two giant black holes orbiting each other.

As for the distance between the two black holes, they might just be less than a hundredth of a light-year apart or a few hundred times the distance between the Earth and the Sun, and are possibly drawing closer to each other, the researchers say. "Depending on that, we think this pair will collide and merge into one black hole in as little as 350 years, or as much as 360,000 years". At their current close separation, the two black holes are inevitably being drawn closer together as they emit gravitational waves.

"Supermassive black hole mergers occur in slow motion compared to stellar-mass black holes", Dorn-Wallenstein said.

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