The two astronomical objects are separated by a distance of 750 light years and have 200 and 125 million more masses than the Sun.
An international group of astronomers observed for the first time how a pair of black holes about to collide are “greedily devouring” dust, gas and other material left behind by the recent merger of two galaxies, reports the US National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO).
Those responsible for the finding, published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, explained that both black holes are at the center of a new galaxy, identified as UGC 4211which is located 500 million light years from Earth, in the constellation Cancer.
They also detailed that the two astronomical objects are “having dinner” close together, at a distance of 750 light years, and are 200 and 125 million more massive than the Sun.
The singular cosmic phenomenon could be located through the set of radio telescopes of the ALMA project in Chile.
Because of the close separation between the black holes, scientists had to combine a dozen astronomical observations taken by seven telescopes on the ground and in space, including NASA’s Hubble Telescope, in order to obtain data at different wavelengths to differentiate between the black holes. both objects in full growth.
“Our study has identified one of the closest pairs of black holes in a galaxy merger, and because we know that galaxy mergers are much more common in the distant Universe, these black hole binaries may also be much more common than expected.” than previously thought,” said Eureka Scientific (USA) investigator Michael Koss.
The high-intensity gravitational waves that supermassive black holes produce before they collide and form a new, larger object will allow astronomers to detect populations of nearby binary black holes that have yet to be identified.
“If this is the case, in the near future we will be observing frequent gravitational wave events caused by the mergers of these objects throughout the universe,” explained Ezequiel Treister, an astronomer at the Catholic University of Chile.
Predicting the future of the Milky Way
Likewise, the observations made in the galaxy UGC 4211 could help researchers to understand an eventual merger between our galaxy and the Andromeda galaxy.
“The collision of the Milky Way and Andromeda is in its early stages and is expected to occur in about 4.5 billion years“, indicated Koss, who concluded that the recent study “is a source in the final stage of the collision” of galaxies, therefore, it will be possible to estimate how it will be “the connection between the merger and the growth of black holes and, finally, , the production of gravitational waves”.