Gravitational Wave Propels Supermassive Black Hole from Its Galaxy Core

Supermassive black hole

Scientists found a supermassive black hole thousands of light-years away from its galactic core

A recent study says that a supermassive black hole bigger than 1 billion suns was expelled from the center of its galaxy by gravitational waves. The giant black hole has already gone 35,000 light-years away from the center of the galaxy. This is farther than Earth and our sun are from the core of Milky Way.

Supermassive Black Hole spewn away from the center of its galaxy

The black hole might have placed itself at a huge distance from the core of its galaxy, but it might soon leave the galaxy completely. It moves at a speed of 4.7 million mph, and in 20 million years, it might escape from the galaxy. Stefano Bianchi, one of the co-authors of the study speculates on what the force that drove the black hole away.

“We estimate that it took the equivalent energy of 100 million supernovae exploding simultaneously to jettison the black hole.”

The galaxy known as 3C186 is situated 8 billion light-years away from Earth. The researchers used NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope to analyze it. They were able to see that the galaxy hosted a quasar. This represents the bright energetic signature of a supermassive black hole.

How did this giant form?

Most galaxies have supermassive black holes at their center, but this quasar was not found at the core. In fact, it was further away than any black hole was ever seen. After making the necessary calculations, they established that the black hole was expelled from the galaxy core one or two billion years ago, when it collided with a different galaxy.

During the collision, the black holes of the two galaxies emitted some strong gravitational waves. The emission occurred more into one direction than another. Thus, after the two black holes merged, the resulting giant was propelled thousands of light-years away.

If this theory is correct, then the scientists will have proof that supermassive black holes can merge. There is already some evidence that regular stellar-mass black holes can collide, but the process for supermassive ones is more complex.

The study is scheduled for publishing next week, in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics. However, it is available for reading online, on a preprint site right here.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

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