NASA detects giant black holes about to collide in dwarf galaxies
In a recent astronomical find, NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory discovered two colossal black holes on a fiery trajectory that could trigger the strongest cosmic explosion ever witnessed.
Far out of reach, two sets of dwarf galaxies have recently come together to join in an astronomical dance. One pair resides 760 million light-years away from us here on Earth, while the other is a majestic 3.2 billion light-years distant in the Abell 1758S cluster.
These dual unions may provide insight into our Universe's infancy - when paired black holes were more widespread and ever-present than they are now!
How was the discovery made?
The galaxy pairs are smaller, making their fainter light signatures harder to see. This makes the observations challenging for researchers. These galaxies consist of stars with a total mass of less than 3 billion times that of the Sun. On the other hand, our own Milky Way holds around 60 billion Suns.
So, to make the discovery, researchers had to combine data from various telescopes. For instance, X-ray results from Chandram, optical results from the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope, and infrared results from WISE.
Abell 133 is a magnificent duo of galaxies that have recently merged, and it's earned the nickname "Mirabilis." This name pays homage to an endangered hummingbird known for its long tail - similar to the beautiful streamers stretching out from this celestial collision.
As for Abell 1758S, the galaxies aren't yet joined to the same extent. Therefore, they are given two nicknames: Vinteul and Elstir. It appears that these two galaxies are currently linked by a bridge of gas and stars and haven't yet merged fully.
Offer insights on the star and black hole formation
By comparing galaxies colliding with each other billions of years ago to ones in existence today, astrophysicist Olivia Holmes from the University of Alabama is delving into questions about interstellar relations between galactic ancestors that could offer insights on black holes and star formation.
Further, by studying similarly-structured systems in the current Universe, we can picture how our Milky Way galaxy formed and evolved.
With this knowledge, researchers may be able to answer the remaining puzzles surrounding our home Galaxy too!
Jimmy Irwin from the University of Alabama also added that follow-up observations would enable them to study the critical processes of understanding black holes and galaxies as infants.
This research is published in The Astrophysical Journal and is available to read on the preprint server arXiv.