Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Australian-American Duo Shows Black Holes In Collision

Date:
August 5, 2002
Source:
Rutgers, The State University Of New Jersey
Summary:
One of the more spectacular phenomena in the cosmos might just be the collision of supermassive black holes that accompanies the merger of galaxies. But the astronomical community has not had definitive proof that these black holes are actually coming together. For the first time, astronomers have now produced a convincing mathematical model that offers the strongest support to date for the idea that the black holes merge when their host galaxies do.

NEW BRUNSWICK/PISCATAWAY, N.J. – One of the more spectacular phenomena in the cosmos might just be the collision of supermassive black holes that accompanies the merger of galaxies. But the astronomical community has not had definitive proof that these black holes are actually coming together. For the first time, astronomers have now produced a convincing mathematical model that offers the strongest support to date for the idea that the black holes merge when their host galaxies do.

Related Articles


David Merritt of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, and Ron Ekers of the Australia Telescope National Facility in Sydney, Australia, have published a paper online in Science Express that supports this interpretation.

Their calculations demonstrated that when two black holes merge, the interaction will realign the larger one. They showed for the first time that a smaller hole could knock a bigger one, with five times the mass, out of kilter.

The realignment takes place with a sudden flip in the spin axis of the larger hole. It shows up, said Merritt and Ekers, as a sudden switch in direction of the jets of particles that shoot out along the black hole's spin axis. Images made with a radio telescope show both the old and the new paths, and the galaxy appears X-shaped.

Supermassive black holes have been found in the center of almost every galaxy where astronomers have looked. From a few million to a few billion times the size of our sun (or solar masses), they are thought to have formed from giant gas clouds or from the collapse of clusters of immense numbers of stars shortly after the Big Bang when the universe began.

Merritt, who leads the Supermassive Black Hole Research Group at Rutgers, is a theorist who has worked extensively on the interaction of black holes with galaxies. Ekers, a prominent radio astronomer, is the president-elect of the International Astronomical Union (IAU) and director of the Australia Telescope National Facility.

"Supermassive black holes may have collided in a surprisingly large number of galaxies, leaving their signatures plain to read," reported Merritt and Ekers. About 7 percent of known radio-emitting galaxies show their jets in this characteristic X-shaped pattern. Merritt and Ekers calculated that a large galaxy has the probability of being involved in a collision once every billion years. Based on this calculation, one of these spectacles is bound to take place somewhere in the universe each year.

"We have known about X-shaped galaxies for a long time, but until now we have never had a convincing explanation for them," said Merritt. "Most astronomers were fairly sure that black holes coalesce, but we now regard the X-shaped galaxies as the first 'smoking-gun' evidence. Our model demonstrates that these constitute solid evidence that the black hole mergers actually take place."

Additional images can be downloaded from the Web at http://www.ira.bo.cnr.it/~murgia/Radioastronomy/NGC326/IMAGES/index.html .


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Rutgers, The State University Of New Jersey. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Rutgers, The State University Of New Jersey. "Australian-American Duo Shows Black Holes In Collision." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 August 2002. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/08/020805075141.htm>.
Rutgers, The State University Of New Jersey. (2002, August 5). Australian-American Duo Shows Black Holes In Collision. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 27, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/08/020805075141.htm
Rutgers, The State University Of New Jersey. "Australian-American Duo Shows Black Holes In Collision." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/08/020805075141.htm (accessed January 27, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Space & Time News

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Water Fleas Prepare for Space Voyage

Water Fleas Prepare for Space Voyage

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Jan. 26, 2015) — Scientists are preparing a group of water fleas for a unique voyage into space. The aquatic crustaceans, known as Daphnia, can be used as a miniature model for biomedical research, and their reproductive and swimming behaviour will be tested for signs of stress while on board the International Space Station. Jim Drury went to meet the team. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mars Rover Opportunity Celebrates 11-Year Anniversary

Mars Rover Opportunity Celebrates 11-Year Anniversary

Rumble (Jan. 26, 2015) — Eleven years ago NASA&apos;s Opportunity rover touched down on Mars for what was only supposed to be a 90-day mission. Since then it has traveled 25.9 miles (41.7 kilometers), further than any other off-Earth surface vehicle has ever driven. Credit to &apos;NASA&apos;. Video provided by Rumble
Powered by NewsLook.com
NASA's On Course To Take Pluto's Best Photo Ever

NASA's On Course To Take Pluto's Best Photo Ever

Newsy (Jan. 25, 2015) — NASA&apos;s New Horizons probe is en route to snap a picture of Pluto this summer, but making sure it doesn&apos;t miss its one chance to do so starts now. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Rosetta Captures Stunning Views, Diverse Data Of Comet 67P

Rosetta Captures Stunning Views, Diverse Data Of Comet 67P

Newsy (Jan. 23, 2015) — The first images of the European Space Agency&apos;s Rosetta probe comet orbit could provide clues about its origin and how it got its unique shape. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:  

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile iPhone Android Web
    Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins