A Pair of Supermassive Black Holes on a Collision Course has Been Spotted by Astronomers

Scientists have discovered two distant black holes in a collision course. The two black holes are estimated to be at a distance of 2.5 billion light-years from the Earth. The images of the two dancing galaxies were obtained by the Wide Field Camera 3 of the Hubble Space Telescope. The research was published on Wednesday in the research journal, The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

According to the research, the two black holes have a mass which is 800 million times that of the Sun. The two supermassive black holes have been found in a galaxy that is named by the scientists as SDSS J1010+1413. Scientists expect the two black-holes to keep getting closer on their way to colliding with each other. Their collision shall emit massive gravitational waves which will take billions of years to reach Earth. However, a study of their collision will help astronomers analyze the nature of the ripples formed by their collision.

The discovery can help understand how such gigantic black holes merge with each other. Such supermassive holes are speculated to be spinning around each other continuously before the actual merger. However, there is very limited data available to reveal the dynamics of the process or to prove that such a phenomenon even takes place.

Scientists are so unsure about it that they have named it as the “final-parsec problem.” To solve this problem, Michael Strauss, a co-author of the study suggests that astronomers need to study the gravitational wave background generated by other such supermassive black holes that are nearer in comparison. Strauss in his study said, “This is the first example of a close pair of such massive black holes that we’ve found, but there may well be additional binary black holes remaining to be discovered.”