Double Black Hole Found By NASA’s Hubble Telescope [Photo]

A double black hole has been found by NASA’s Hubble telescope. Located at around 600 million light years away, the binary black hole is named Markarian (Mrk) 231 and NASA believes the discovery shows that quasars may commonly host a double black hole.

In a related report by the Inquisitr, supermassive black holes have been located, and it is believed they are up to a billion times more massive than stellar black holes. Stephen Hawking also recently claimed that escape from a black hole is possible.

The discovery of the double black hole was made when NASA scientists were poring over old archives from the Hubble telescope. When they were looking at Mrk 231, they realized the ultraviolet radiation being emitted was not normal.

“If only one black hole were present in the center of the quasar, the whole accretion disk made of surrounding hot gas would glow in ultraviolet rays. Instead, the ultraviolet glow of the dusty disk abruptly drops off toward the center. This provides observational evidence that the disk has a big donut hole encircling the central black hole. The best explanation for the donut hole in the disk, based on dynamical models, is that the center of the disk is carved out by the action of two black holes orbiting each other.”

The double black hole is composed of two black holes with dramatically different sizes. The larger of the two is estimated to be 150 million times the mass of the sun, while the smaller is estimated at four million solar masses. It is believed the double black hole has an orbit which lasts about 1.2 years. It is believed the binary black hole will continue to spiral together until it eventually collides within several hundred years.

Markarian 231

The NASA scientists say the discovery of the double black hole opens up the possibility of finding even more such stellar objects.

“We are extremely excited about this finding because it not only shows the existence of a close binary black hole in Mrk 231, but also paves a new way to systematically search binary black holes via the nature of their ultraviolet light emission,” said Youjun Lu of the National Astronomical Observatories of China, Chinese Academy of Sciences.

According to Popular Science, the discovery of the double black hole was made within the closest quasar to Earth. The discovery is the first of its kind and NASA believes it will help when it comes to search out the structure of the universe.

“The structure of our universe, such as those giant galaxies and clusters of galaxies, grows by merging smaller systems into larger ones, and binary black holes are natural consequences of these mergers of galaxies,” added co-investigator Xinyu Dai of the University of Oklahoma.

Markarian 231
[Images via NASA]