Two faraway supermassive black holes are on their way towards collision, scientists say. The two are now only one light year apart and the impact of the two of them colliding will discharge the energy of 100 million supernovae, and will most probably bring their galaxy to an end.
According to the researchers, the event will take place in the next million years, a small amount of time on an astronomical time scale. The black holes are situated in the isolated PG 1302-102 galaxy which is located far away from our Milky Way, so the collision will not affect us at all.
Black holes are massive objects, believed to date from the be beginning of the universe. They are believed to form as a result of the gravitational collapse of a supernova explosion. The explosion is so massive and its gravitational field so forceful that no electromagnetic radiation can get away. The merger of the two black holes could potentially answer one of the hardest question scientists have dealt with.
Mattthew Graham, a scientists at Caltech, explains that the “final parsec problem” refers to the failure of forming black holes theories that can foresee the final stages of a merger. The merger of black holes is not yet understood, so the discovery of such a system and the ability to observe its evolution can bring new hope.
But how come the two black holes got to colliding in the first place? Apparently, almost all galaxies have black holes in their center. So, when two galaxies merge, the black holes orbit each other and begin to move more and more close to one another. Scientists believe that when they move close together, they create gravitational waves that are essentially folds of the fabric of space-time. These are all theories of course, as no such events have been observed by astronomers.
It seems that the two supermassive black holes of the PG 1301-102 galaxy are moving towards each other at a unprecedented pace. Most black holes are not expected to collide for a few billion of years.
It is presumed that ultimately, Milky Way will merge with its neighbor, Andromeda. The PG 1301-102 system will provide scientists with a lot of new data, and it can help them predict what could happen to our home galaxy in a few billion years.
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