What the merger of several galaxies with black holes says about the future of the Milky Way?
Researchers first recorded pairs of supermassive black holes, each occupying the center of their respective galaxies, approaching each other before merging into a single giant black hole.
Researchers have recorded pairs of supermassive black holes approaching each other before they merge as a giant black hole.
A team of astronomers was able to observe for the first time the final stages of the merger between several pairs of galaxies, this is an event about which there were theories, but which until then had not been recorded directly.
The team led by Michael Koss, a researcher at Eureka Scientific Inc., a research firm based at the University of California, Berkeley, has examined hundreds of nearby galaxies using images from NASA’s WM Keck Observatory and NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope.
The researchers have captured pairs of supermassive black holes, each occupying the center of their respective galaxies, approaching each other before merging into a single giant black hole, Nasa said in a statement.
Many Hubble Space Telescope images show the merging of two galaxies, one of the most violent events.
At the center of most (if not all), galaxies are supermassive black holes with mass values billions of times larger than that of the Sun or Earth.
The supermassive black hole in the center of our galaxy, the Milky Way, is called Sagittarius A * (Sgr A *) and weighs 4.3 million suns.
The fusions of galaxies were more frequent in the initial phase of the universe. Therefore, these images provide a rare view of one of the most violent events in the universe.
They also foreshadow what is likely to happen when the Milky Way merges with the nearby galaxy, Andromeda.
The two galaxies contain supermassive black holes in their centers, which will eventually collide and merge into a larger black hole.
A fusion of galaxies is a slow process that lasts more than a billion years.
Under the inexorable force of gravity, two galaxies are slowly approaching until they finally unite.
In their analysis, the team at Eureka Scientific Inc. has confirmed that black holes in galaxies grow faster when they are approaching collision.
“The fact that black holes grow faster as the fusion process progresses indicates that these encounters between galaxies are really important for understanding how these objects become so monstrously large,” said study collaborator Laura Blecha, of the University of Florida, in the statement of NASA.
The team of researchers focused on localized galaxies, on average, 330 million light years from Earth, relatively close in cosmic terms.
Many of these galaxies are similar in size to the galaxies of the Milky Way and Andromeda. In total, the team analyzed 96 galaxies observed with the Keck telescope and 385 other galaxies from the Hubble archive.
The Milky Way is currently approaching the Andromeda galaxy at an average speed of 300 km / s, so at some point, they will merge into a single large galaxy.
But you do not have to worry about that now: experts predict that the merger will still take several billion years.