Scientist discovered giant black hole trio spiraling into each other
- June 28, 2014
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Astronomers say they have detected three giant black holes spiraling into each other. They're hoping similar systems could give off detectable “ripples” in space and time of a type predicted by Einstein.
Scientists examined six systems thought to contain two “supermassive” black holes. A black hole is an object so compact that its gravity overpowers even light. Supermassive black holes are a mammoth type, which lurk at the centers of galaxies and anchor them together.
The researchers found that one of these contained three supermassive black holes – the tightest trio of black holes detected at such a large distance – with two of them orbiting each other rather like binary, or double stars. The finding suggests that these closely packed supermassive black holes are far more common than previously thought, the scientists said. A report of the research is published in this week's issue of the journal Nature.
“What remains extraordinary to me is that these black holes, which are at the very extreme of Einstein's Theory of General Relativity, are orbiting one another at 300 times the speed of sound on Earth,” said Roger Deane from the University of Cape Town in South Africa, who led the project.
“Not only that, but using the combined signals from radio telescopes on four continents we are able to observe this exotic system one third of the way across the Universe,” he added. The distance is estimated as four billion light-years. A light-year is the distance light travels in a year.
“This is just scratching the surface of a long list of discoveries that will be made possible with the Square Kilometer Array,” a new telescope system, he added.
The expectation is that such black holes would eventually merge, giving off these waves predicted by Einstein. “The idea that we might be able to find more of these potential sources of gravitational waves is very encouraging as knowing where such signals should originate will help us try to detect these ‘ripples' in space-time as they warp the Universe,” said astrophysicist Matt Jarvis of Oxford University, a co-author of the paper.
“We have managed to spot three black holes packed about as tightly together as they could be before spiraling into each other and merging.”
The team used a technique called Very Long Baseline Interferometry to discover the inner two black holes. This technique combines the signals from large radio antennas separated by up to 10,000 kilometers (6,200 miles) to see detail 50 times finer than that possible with the Hubble Space Telescope. Future radio telescopes are expected to be able to measure the gravitational waves from such black hole systems as the objects fall into each other.
The researchers also found that even though black holes may be so close together that our telescopes can't tell them apart, the twisted jets of particles that they give off may provide easy-to-find pointers to them, much like using a flare to mark your location at sea. This could provide sensitive future telescopes a way to find such objects more easily.
Source : http://www.world-science.net/