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J140737 and J122104 Animations
A Tour of Dual Black Holes
(Credit: NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)
[Runtime: 02:02]

With closed-captions (at YouTube)

Astronomers have found evidence for five dual supermassive black holes in the centers of galaxies, 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.

Before this study fewer than ten confirmed pairs of growing black holes were known from X-ray studies, based mostly on chance detections. To carry out a systematic search, a team of researchers had to carefully sift through data from telescopes that detect different wavelengths of light.

After first identified promising candidates in optical and infrared data, the researchers then used data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory to confirm the presence of five merging supermassive black holes in different galaxies. This work shows the effectiveness of X-ray data to help find such black hole pairs. This discovery could help scientists better understand how giant black holes grow and how they may produce the strongest gravitational wave signals in the Universe.

A Quick Look at J140737 and J122104
(Credit: NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)
[Runtime: 01:06]

Astronomers have found five new supermassive black holes in the centers of galaxies.

When galaxies collide and merge with each other, it can force their supermassive black holes close together.

While models predict this would happen, it has been very difficult to find these giant black hole pairs until now.

The combination of data from Chandra, WISE, and the Large Binocular Telescope led to this bumper crop of black holes.

This discovery could lead to a better understanding of how giant black holes grow.




Return to Seeing Double: Scientists Find Elusive Giant Black Hole Pairs (October 3, 2017)