This is an illustration from the California Institute of Technology showing how two black holes rotate with each other. Credit: Caltech-IPAC
At a distance of about 9 billion light-years, two giant black holes are dancing the waltz of the universe.
In a recent study published in Astrophysical Journal LetterBlack holes are called PKS-2131-021 and orbit each other closely — they say they are so close that NASA is almost 100% integrated.
They are getting closer and closer every two years and are fully integrated in about 10,000 years. This may seem like a long time, but it usually takes about 100 million years for such a large black hole to start orbiting each other. According to NASA, these black holes are millions, if not billions, of the sun.
PKS-2131-021 is one of 1,800 black holes that a team of researchers at the California Institute of Technology have been monitoring at the Owens Valley Radio Observatory near Big Pine, California for 13 years.
“Black holes are very special. As a result of Einstein’s theory of relativity, they once existed only in mathematics,” said working at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. Michele Vallisneri, who co-authored a recent study, said. “It seemed very impossible — like one of those predictions from math. [that] Should not exist. “
In 2016, astronomers at the California Institute of Technology were studying gravitational waves in the invisible ripples of the universe, which are generated every time the mass changes significantly. While looking for these ripples, they detected two black holes close to each other. However, black holes behave strangely due to their irregular brightness, and it is necessary to obtain data from 2008 to 2019 to confirm that these black holes are swirling with each other. was.
“The simplest explanation we have for these observations is that they are two very large and very close black holes,” said Vallisneri.
Hear: Hear more about the colliding black holes and what they teach us about our universe. Keep an eye on the latest episode of WMFE Are we still there? For many.
Black holes do not emit light, but Vallisneri said they were able to detect these black holes because they swallowed the surrounding material very quickly and emitted light through colliding stars near the black holes.
“We understand that they are very bright, because there is a black hole in the middle that is accreting large amounts of matter very quickly from the surroundings,” said Vallisneri. “The gas gets very hot and produces a lot of radiation.”
PKS-2131-021 is considered a special type of black hole called a blazer. This is a black hole that ejects a jet of supercharged matter towards the Earth (but don’t worry, it won’t affect the Earth). The matter comes from the hot gas around the black hole, and the matter is passing through the galaxy at the speed of light rather than towards the black hole.
“Normal gravitational radiation from orbit. As we collect more and more radio data, we will see it within a few years,” said Vallisneri.
The merger of two black holes is not uncommon. It only takes a long time for the black holes to get on track with each other.
“These two black holes continue to orbit each other for a considerable distance, not close enough to meet, but we think many of them will.”
In 2037, NASA and the European Space Agency will send three spacecraft called the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) to the galaxy millions of miles. LISA will be able to detect and measure the gravitational waves of these colliding black holes.
“If all goes well, we should see hundreds of mergers within five to ten years of its operation,” says Vallisneri.