Scientists have found the best evidence yet for a trio of supermassive black holes in seemingly merging galaxies, a new paper states.
The evolutionary theories of the universe predict that galaxies and the enormous black holes in their centers will evolve over time by merging together. But scenarios with three supermassive black holes in the center of large galaxies are hard to come by. Understanding these systems can help elucidate the general evolution of galaxies.
"It would enhance our understanding of the effects of galaxy fusions on supermassive black holes and vice versa," said study author Ryan Pfeifle, a doctoral student at George Mason University. Gizmodo opposite.
When s massive black holes begin to devour matter and spew radiation the cores become active galactic nuclei. This can happen when two galaxies approach. Despite their importance, it is difficult to merge galaxies with dual active galactic nuclei with fewer than 30 documented candidates, according to the publication in The Astrophysical Journal.
The scientists behind this work searched for dual-active galactic nuclei by first searching infrared data on the fusion of galaxies taken by the WISE Space Telescope. They then examined X-ray data on these sources from the Chandra X-ray Observatory and NuSTAR X-Ray Space Telescope and infrared data from the Large Binocular Telescope and optical data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey.
One of these sources, called SDSS J0849 + 1114, seemed to have all the characteristics of a trio of active galactic nuclei at the center of galaxy fusion . These included three x-ray sources, one in the middle of each of the three galaxies, and an infrared signature of one of the black holes that absorb matter . Taken together, this represents the strongest evidence yet for a trio of supermassive black holes in merging galaxies, said Pfeifle.
SDSS J0849 + 1114 is exciting not only because of its rarity, as systems like these could possibly explain why supermassive black holes merge at all. There is a long-standing astrophysical problem, the "Final Parsec Problem". W As two supermassive black holes approach, they begin to circle and approach them. They lose energy through friction with the surrounding stars and the gas. But if they are about a second or 3.26 light-years apart, simulations show they are taking a more stable orbit, and it would take longer for them than the age of the universe actually merge. Given that galactic mergers are part of the science of evolution of the universe, these black holes must somehow merge.
The introduction of a third supermassive black hole into a binary supermassive black hole pair could provide the necessary momentum to complete the fusion in a more reasonable timeframe.
"You are presenting a fairly convincing case that this system has a triple supermassive fusion of black holes," said Chiara Mingarelli, research associate at the Flatiron Institute Center for Computational Astrophysics, to Gizmodo. "It's encouraging to see such a system in real life in the universe."
Scientists are currently looking for evidence of space-time ripples generated by supermassive black-hole binary systems via pulsar timing arrays . Experiments measuring the changes in velocity with which dense, rotating neutron stars pulsate. These new results are encouraging as they offer the possibility of merging supermassive black holes and raise the hope that experiments with pulsar timing arrays will find something like the more than a decade ongoing experiment NANOGrav . However, Mingarelli pointed out that requiring three supermassive black holes to see these waves could delay the results of the pulsar timing array by several years. Hopefully, there are several other mechanisms that allow binary supermassive black holes to merge without a third partner, she said.
Pfeifle pointed out that there is no guarantee that these black holes will merge, as this would require a better understanding of the movement of the system.
However, scientists now have a number of tools that can be used to find these threefold supermassive black hole systems. Pfeifle said the team will continue to look for more examples to develop a more general understanding of them.