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Nearest supermassive black hole pair is merging galaxies - Space.com

Nearest supermassive black hole pair is merging galaxies - Space.com

Nearest supermassive black hole pair is merging galaxies - Space.com
Aug 16, 2022 1 min, 27 secs

Astronomers have discovered the pair of supermassive black holes at the heart of colliding galaxies that is closest to Earth.

At the heart of that giant collision-born galaxy are two supermassive black holes — each once at the core of respective progenitor galaxies.

The duo are the closest supermassive black hole pairing to Earth ever discovered.

Eventually, in around 250 million years, these titanic cosmic monsters will also collide and merge like their parent galaxies, creating an even more massive supermassive black hole, according to a statement from the European Southern Observatory, which operates the telescope used in the research.

The galaxy created by this billion-year-long collision, called NGC 7727, is a tremendous and beautiful example of the long, drawn-out process that two galaxies undergo when they bump into each other. .

Although the galaxies and their black holes collide, there is enough distance between the stars that make up galaxies that the stars themselves are spared the destructive effects of the merger!

These long arms of dust, gas and stars that ripped from each progenitor galaxy long ago surround the galaxy their merger has created, almost creating the illusion of a galactic embrace.

These are the merging galaxies' cores, each occupied by its own supermassive black hole, some of the last parts of the galaxy to coalesce. .

These two supermassive black holes are currently separated by just 1,600 light-years and will merge in around 250 million years, a tiny amount of time in cosmic terms.

Although the system is the closest supermassive black hole pairing to Earth yet found, the search for such pairs is set to receive a massive boost later in the 2020s when the Extremely Large Telescope (ELT), also located in the Atacama Desert region of Chile, comes online. .


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