Summary #646

Pair of supermassive black holes discovered on a collision course

eurekalert.org
  • 2 supermassive black holes, 2.5 billion light-years from Earth, might help solve a long-standing mystery - the final parsec problem.
  • As their galaxies are merging, gas and stars pass between the black holes, stealing energy - which stops when they get close enough.
  • Theory suggests that they stall at ~1 parsec (~3.2 light-years) apart; it’s unknown how often galaxies merge and if the holes really merge (or ‘waltz’ around each other).
  • During the collision, black holes emit powerful gravitational waves - this pair won’t for 2.5 billion years, but it still helps astronomers find others that emit them.
  • It is predicted there may be ~112 supermassive black holes emitting gravitational waves nearby, which might be detected in the next 5 years.

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