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Seeing Double: Scientists Find Elusive Giant Black Hole Pairs

Bringing some of the mysteries of the universe a little closer to home.

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Owlscrying
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Unread post Tue Oct 03, 2017 8:38 pm

Astronomers have identified a bumper crop of dual supermassive black holes in the centers of galaxies. This discovery could help astronomers better understand how giant black holes grow and how they may produce the strongest gravitational wave signals in the Universe.

The new evidence reveals five pairs of supermassive black holes, each containing millions of times the mass of the Sun. These black hole couples formed when two galaxies collided and merged with each other, forcing their supermassive black holes close together.

The black hole pairs were uncovered by combining data from a suite of different observatories including NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, the Wide-Field Infrared Sky Explorer Survey (WISE), and the ground-based Large Binocular Telescope in Arizona.

“Astronomers find single supermassive black holes all over the universe,” said Shobita Satyapal, from George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, who led one of two papers describing these results. “But even though we’ve predicted they grow rapidly when they are interacting, growing dual supermassive black holes have been difficult to find.”

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Owlscrying
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Unread post Tue Oct 03, 2017 8:40 pm

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Credits: NASA/CXC/A.Hobart

Illustration of supermassive black hole pair.

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Owlscrying
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Unread post Tue Oct 03, 2017 8:41 pm

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Credits: X-ray (J122104): NASA/CXC/George Mason Univ./S.Satyapal et al.; X-ray (J140737): NASA/CXC/Univ. of Victoria/S.Ellison et al.; Optical: SDSS; Illustration: NASA/CXC/A.Hobart

This graphic shows two of five new pairs of supermassive black holes recently identified by astronomers using a combination of data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, the Wide-Field Infrared Sky Explorer Survey (WISE), and the ground-based Large Binocular Telescope in Arizona

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Owlscrying
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Unread post Tue Oct 03, 2017 8:43 pm



Astronomers using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory have discovered the first pair of supermassive black holes in a spiral galaxy similar to the Milky Way. Approximately 160 million light years from Earth, the pair is the nearest known such phenomenon.

The black holes are located near the center of the spiral galaxy NGC 3393. Separated by only 490 light years, the black holes are likely the remnant of a merger of two galaxies of unequal mass a billion or more years ago.

 
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