Black holes

Black Holes On Collision Course: Two Distant Black Holes To Collide With Each Other

Scientists at the Columbia University have conducted a study, which uncovered new evidence of the possibility of an imminent collision between two black holes, HNGN reports. According to the study, details of which have been published in Nature magazine, two black holes, both located in the constellation of Virgo, are on the path to collide with each other.

Both the black holes are estimated to be a staggering three-and-a-half-billion light years away from our solar system. And, no, do not expect the collision to happen any time soon — it would take at least 100,000 more years for that to happen. However, 100,000 years is a relatively short time span when you compare it with the age of the universe — estimated to be a tad over 13-billion-years-old.

As for the collision, scientists say this giant collision between the black holes will send ripples across the galaxy in which they are located, and could possibly destroy it.

Zoltan Haiman, a senior author who was a part of the team that discovered that the two black holes are on a collision course, says as follows.

“Some people think these systems are always going to be hung up at large separations. Our study is important because it shows that, yes, black holes can reach very small distances from each other.”

The fact that these two black holes are on a collision course was discovered last winter by a team of astronomers from Caltech, the New York Times reports. The latest study only adds credence to the discovery that was made last year. According to scientists, the evidence of the collision came from the flickering that was observed from the galaxy’s nucleus, a quasar by the name PG 1303-102. This flickering was, according to them, caused by the effects of the tremendous gravitation that the pair of black holes exerted on the nucleus. Just to give you an idea, the mass of both the galaxies combined would be more than the mass of a billion suns. And our sun is quite a large object, with considerable mass.

While it would be impossible for any of us to witness this incident, it could be possible that our future generations might be able to do it. The collision would release a massive burst of energy, from which we would be able to unravel a lot of mysteries of the universe that continue to perplex us.

Haiman adds the following.

“Watching this process reach its culmination can tell us whether black holes and galaxies grow at the same rate, and ultimately test a fundamental property of space-time: its ability to carry vibrations called gravitational waves, produced in the last, most violent, stage of the merger.”

[Photo by NASA / ESAvia / Getty Images]

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