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Recent Podcast
A Tour of CXO J101527.2+625911
A Tour of CXO J101527.2+625911
Giant black holes are generally stationary objects, sitting at the centers of most galaxies. However, using data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and other telescopes, astronomers recently hunted down a supermassive black hole that may be on the move. (2017-05-11)


A Tour of CXO J101527.2+625911

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Narrator (April Hobart, CXC): Giant black holes are generally stationary objects, sitting at the centers of most galaxies. However, using data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and other telescopes, astronomers recently hunted down a supermassive black hole that may be on the move.

This candidate renegade black hole, which contains about 160 million times the mass of our Sun, is located in an elliptical galaxy about 3.9 billion light years from Earth. Astronomers found this potentially moving black hole by sifting through X-ray data from Chandra and optical data for thousands of galaxies.

This black hole may have "recoiled," in terminology used by scientists, when two smaller supermassive black holes collided and merged to form an even larger one. When this collision happened, it would have generated gravitational waves that emitted more strongly in one direction than others. The newly formed black hole could have received a kick in the opposite direction of those stronger gravitational waves, driving it out of the galaxy's center.

Astronomers are interested in these moving supermassive black holes because they may reveal more about the rate and direction of spin for these enigmatic objects before they merge.

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