Black Holes Go "Mano A Mano"

NGC 6240

This image of NGC 6240 contains new X-ray data from Chandra (shown in red, orange, and yellow) that has been combined with an optical image from the Hubble Space Telescope originally released in 2008. In 2002, the discovery of two merging black holes was announced based on Chandra data in this galaxy. The two black holes are a mere 3,000 light years apart and are seen as the bright point-like sources in the middle of the image.

Scientists think these black holes are in such close proximity because they are in the midst of spiraling toward each other – a process that began about 30 million years ago. It is estimated that the two black holes will eventually drift together and merge into a larger black hole some tens or hundreds of millions of years from now.

Carnival of Space

-K. Arcand, CXC

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