Two of Earth’s closest black holes are on a collision course – with the pair likely to form a supermassive black hole.
Earth’s closet blackholes are on a collision course and will likely form a supermassive black hole with researchers salivating at the prospect.
Fortunately for life on Earth, the two regions of space are 89 million light-years away.
Despite the huge distance, they are still the closest black holes to Earth and this closeness indicates that they are moving towards each other and will collide and merge – forming a supermassive black hole.
The previous closest supermassive black hole pairing is found 470 million light-years from Earth.
Strasbourg Observatory astronomer France Dr Karina Voggel said there is valuable information that can be learned from observing astronomical objects.
“This system has the two closest supermassive black holes ever discovered. One of these giant black holes is at the centre of the galaxy where we expect them typically,” she told Newsweek.
“The second black hole is not in the centre but a little bit offset from it. We have never found a supermassive black hole pair at such a small distance to each other.
Space experts believe most galaxies have a supermassive black hole at their centres. Our galaxy has the supermassive black hole Sagittarius A* (Sgr A*).
Dr Voggel explained that this finding is important because even though these black holes won‘t collide and merge for at least 250 million years it gives researchers the chance to study the system before it merges.
“We do not yet understand how black holes grow their mass. One of the ways could be through the merging with supermassive black holes from other galaxies,” she said.
“However, this process is very hard to observe in itself as most galaxies are much further away than this, and when they are far away one cannot measure the exact masses of these black holes.