Imagine what a big cosmic event it would be to see two supermassive black holes collide.
Strange things happening in a galaxy about a billion light-years away could be a sign of one of the most exciting things happening in astronomy right now.
Astronomers predict ‘imminent’ collision black holes
A report by ScienceAlert says that the strange changes in the SDSS J1430+2303 galaxy’s light look like two supermassive black holes with a combined mass of about 200 million suns that are about to crash into each other.
Astronomers think that a collision between two massive black holes will happen in the next three years if the galaxy’s strange behavior is caused by them.
Even though J1429+2303 may be our best chance so far to see two supermassive black holes collide, astronomers still don’t know exactly what it is. Scientists will have to keep an eye on the galaxy for this reason.
In 2015, it was shown for the first time that two black holes can collide. Since then, more detections have been made because of the gravitational waves that these huge events send through space-time.
ScienceAlert said that most of these mergers haven’t yet involved binary pairs of black holes, each of which is about as heavy as a single star. The LIGO and Virgo detectors, which found the gravitational waves, then looked for masses in this range.
ScienceAlert also said that the frequency range of our current observatories is too low to pick up the ripples made by supermassive black holes that are millions to billions of times heavier than the Sun and spiral in on themselves or crash into each other.
Even though scientists don’t have a detector that can pick up low-frequency gravitational waves, they still think there will be a huge amount of light across the spectrum.
Seeing a binary supermassive black hole
Scientists from China’s University of Science and Technology, led by Ning Jiang, also noticed some strange things about J1430+2303. In three years, the time between galactic nucleus oscillations went from almost a year to just one month.
But scientists are still not sure if the activity at the center of J1430+2303 is related to a binary black hole. Since galactic nuclei are strange places that send out hard-to-understand signals, it’s possible that something else is behind the changes in the center of J1430+2303.
A group from Guangzhou University in China, led by Liming Dou, has been trying to find high-energy signs that could point to a supermassive black hole binary on a decaying orbit by looking at data from different X-ray observatories over the course of 200 days.
The galaxy’s X-rays
Scientists did see changes in the brightness of the galaxy’s X-rays, as well as a specific type of emission caused by iron falling into a black hole, which they were able to see with 99.96% certainty with two different pieces of equipment.
Additionally, an analysis of radio data published in July came up empty. So, it looks like scientists still don’t really know what’s going on with J1430+2303. So, scientists will have to look further to figure out what makes it so strange.
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