It’s a fun sight to see when heavenly bodies have some fun time on their own. They just casually walk into view like they own the entire space. Just like these giant black hole pair photobombing the Andromeda Galaxy.
Before we get to the fun part, let’s have some fast fun facts.
The Andromeda Galaxy is a spiral-shaped galaxy that’s approximately 2.5 million light-years from Earth. This galaxy is also the nearest major galaxy to the Milky Way – where we are situated. Scientists have estimated that the Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies are expected to collide in more or less 4.5 billion years, merging to form a giant disc galaxy.
Now, back to the story. Last November 20, astronomers from the University of Washington discovered a cosmic photobomb as a background object in the images of the nearby Andromeda galaxy has revealed what could be the most tightly coupled pair of supermassive black holes ever seen.
The cosmic photobomb was seen through optical and X-ray images of M31 or famously known as Andromeda from the Hubble Space Telescope.
They called it the LGGS J004527.30+413254.3, J0045+41 for short. Until recently, scientists thought that the J0045+41 was an object within the M31. While these scientists were still on the search of a special type of star, they discovered that it was something else.
They initially thought that this star was within Andromeda’s territory was 1000 times far from Andromeda. Around 2.6 billion light-years away from M31. Even more interesting, what appeared to be a star was something far stranger. They found out that they’re actually giant black holes in close orbit around each other. Like two people dancing around but in this case, two gigantic black holes. See image below.
According to NASA/CXC/University of Washington/ESA, the estimated total mass for these two gigantic black holes is about 200 million times the mass of the sun. Imagine these two giants colliding.
The collision of two black holes isn’t impossible, though. According to NASA and Hubble, it’s possible for two black holes to collide. Once two black holes collide or merge, they become bigger ones.
When this happens, it could become violent. Mergers put off tremendous energy and send massive ripples, or gravitational waves, through the space-time fabric of the universe. However, mergers are rare, and they could happen most likely billions of years from now.
So for now, let us enjoy these two black holes dancing around each other and hope that they won’t be merging soon enough.