Astronomers have found a triple system of black holes

Images of SDSS J0849+1114 in different wavelengths. The bright blobs are where the black holes from each galaxy resides. Image credit Pfeifle et

A new study shares the discovery of three supermassive black holes on a feeding frenzy, as they edge closer together. This is also the most potent piece of evidence that was found for this kind of system of supermassive black holes. To observe this unique collision, space scientists had to use telescopes both on the ground as well as in space. Scientists from the Galaxy Zoo project then tagged it as a system of colliding galaxies. And optical-light data gathered by the SDSS and the Large Binocular Telescope in Arizona further bolstered the notion that all three black holes were active.

The Chandra data revealed X-ray sources - a telltale sign of material being consumed by the black holes - at the bright centers of each galaxy in the merger, exactly where scientists expect supermassive black holes to reside.

Ryan Pfeifle, who's a professor at George Mason University in Virginia, said that they were looking for pairs of black holes, but that, due to their selection technique, they found this incredible system.

But three supermassive black holes at the heart of a large galaxy is an extremely rare sight to chance on.

When supermassive black holes begin gobbling up matter and spewing radiation, the become active galactic nuclei.

"Through the use of these major observaties, we have identified a new way of identifying triple supermassive black holes", said Pfeifle. "Each telescope gives us a different clue about what's going on in these systems", said Pfeifle. "We hope to elongate our work to search out extra triples the utilization of the same components".

"We were handiest trying for pairs of dusky holes on the time, and but, thru our want components, we stumbled upon this unbelievable machine", acknowledged Ryan Pfeifle, the main creator of the learn about, in a commentary.

SDSS J0849+1114 is exciting for more than just its rarity, since systems like these might help explain why supermassive black holes merge at all. He discovered an object named SDSS J0849+1114.

The black holes surround themselves in gas and dust like a shroud that obscures them from Earth-based telescopes. When there are three such black holes interacting, a pair should merge into a larger black hole much faster than if the two were alone.

Scientists are now hunting for evidence of ripples in spacetime created by supermassive black hole binaries via pulsar timing arrays, experiments that measure the changes to the rate at which dense, rotating neutron stars pulse.

Astronomers already know a bit about how black holes collide; after all, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) has detected the gravitational waves generated by a number of black-hole mergers. Hopefully there are some other mechanisms that allow binary supermassive black holes to merge without a third partner, she said. It took researchers data from all these observatories to confirm the existence of the ternary system.

The new study appears in the latest issue of The Astrophysical Journal.



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