WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- Astrophysicists at the University of Maryland discovered two supermassive black holes locked in orbit around each other.
- According to these scientists, this is a result of two galaxies merging together.
- Scientists speculated that we are going to recognize the collision of these supermassive black holes within the next ten years.
Astronomers theorize that most galaxies in space have their own black holes, like our galaxy, the Milky Way. Supermassive black holes lie at the centers of galaxies. When two galaxies get close to each other, they merge.
That’s what’s happening right now in space, a collision of two galaxies. Over time, their supermassive black holes will spiral inward circling each other. Imagine water going down a drain.
In a paper published in Nature Astronomy, astrophysicists believe that we can detect this collision which is presumed to happen within the next decade.
LIGO, which stands for the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, is a super-sensitive long-distant hearing device that has detected four examples of black holes merging since February 2016. In this case, however, the gravitational waves created by this coming event will not be detected by the LIGO or its European counterpart Virgo.
The waves will be at much too deep a pitch but astronomers should still be able to measure them. These waves will interfere with a special type of star-like object called a pulsar.
Pulsars flicker at a rate that scientists can measure. Gravitational waves send out something like trembles across the universe. This cause the distance between Earth and a pulsar to shake a little. In this way, scientists will be able to see in the pulsar’s signature.
Estimating the number of supermassive black holes and the number of pulsars that can be used as indicators, scientists think that they should spot the touch of a collision’s gravitational waves within ten years.
If that won’t happen, it could mean we still don’t understand what’s going on in the universe. There’s also a possibility that the black holes get stuck and slow down. Who knows if it could take billions of years for them to eventually collide.
But if their theory is right, the team predicted that the location of the collision will be in a neighborhood like the Sombrero Galaxy.