Researchers at the University of Mexico have found a galaxy that is 750 million light-years away with two supermassive black holes in its center. The discovery of two black holes in a galaxy’s center was published on Tuesday in the Astrophysical Journal. And it is the first ever confirmation of orbital motion between two supermassive black holes since it was first theorized.
Two Black Holes in a Galaxy’s Center
Greg Taylor, a professor at the University of New Mexico and co-author of the paper, has stated that he is excited by the finding.
The galaxy in which the two black holes were found is called 0402+379. The mass of the two black holes is 15 billion times than that of the Sun. And the fact that they have this massive size makes their orbital period extremely long. As long as 24,000 years. This finding comes after an observation period of 12 years, in which the researchers have not seen any curvature in the orbit.
Karishma Bansal, a graduate student at the University and lead author of the paper, said that:
“As I learned there was data going back to 2003, we plotted it and determined they are orbiting one another. It’s very exciting”.
She further said that her team will be able to make further observation of the binary supermassive black holes in the galaxy’s center in the following 3 to 4 years.
Their finding shows that their angular motion is very slow and hardly observable. Roger W. Romani, professor of physics and Stanford University, a member of the research team, said that
“If you imagine a snail on the recently-discovered Earth-like planet orbiting Proxima Centauri — 4.243 light-years away — moving at 1 cm a second, that’s the angular motion we’re resolving here”.
This is a significant discovery because scientists can draw from this research and try to understand what happens with other galaxies which are on a collision course, such as the Milky Way and the Andromeda galaxy. Both of them have a massive black hole and are headed one towards the other.
Image Source: Pixabay