Astronomers have recently captured the best views to date of two supermassive black holes in a collision course at the center of the fusion of galaxies. The discovery can help scientists understand how supermassive black holes become so great.
"I see that the pairs of galaxy cores that merged with" black holes "so close together were quite surprising," said lead author of the study, Michael Koss of Eureka Scientific Inc. in Kirkland, Washington. "The images are very powerful since they are ten times sharper than the images of the normal telescopes on the ground. It's similar to legally blindfolded (vision 20/200) to improve vision 20/20 when you put the lens. In our study , we see two galaxy nuclei just when the images were taken. You can not discuss this, it is a very clean result that is not based on interpretation. "
The results of the study appeared online on November 7, 2018 of the magazine Nature.
Koss and his team of researchers conducted the discovery after completing the largest systematic investigation of nearby galaxies using high resolution images taken with the adaptive optical system (AO) of the Weckel Keck observatory and the near infrared camera (NIRC2), along with more than 20 years of experience. Hubble space telescope images from the archive. With the data collected in this exhaustive inquiry, astronomers can identify the types of galaxies that make it possible to host nearby pairs of supermassive black holes.
"This is the first major systematic inquiry of 500 galaxies that has really isolated these black phases hidden in black phases that are very dark and very bright," said Koss. "This is the first time that this population has been discovered. We find a surprising number of supermassive black holes that are getting bigger and faster in the later stages of galaxy mergers."
Scientists theorize that each large galaxy houses a supermassive black hole in its center. When galaxies fuse, make their respective black holes. This process takes billions of years, but ends in seconds. At present, a supermassive concentration of black holes was never observed directly.
Finding such near-galactic nuclei is difficult because the latent stages of a galaxy fusion suffer a lot of gas and dust, especially in the most violent stages, which conceal the view. Astronomers have not been able to observe this type of events so far.
"The very dark galaxy nuclei do not have a source of bright spots in the center as a large number of supermassive black holes that are luminous and unedited," said Koss. "But we could detect them by X-ray data from the Burst Alert Telescope (BAT). Next we use the superior laser capacity of the Keck Observatory's AO system for high resolution and near-infrared imaging to clearly see a dual core through of the gas and the dust and to discover the hidden mergers ".
Koss and his team's conclusions support the theory that galaxy mergers explain how some supermassive black holes have become so monstrously large.
"There are ideas that compete; One idea is that you have a lot of gas in the galaxy that slowly feeds the supermassive black hole. The other thing is the idea is that you need galaxy fusions to cause great growth. Our data argue for the second case , that these galaxy mergers are really critical to fuel the growth of supermassive black holes, "said Koss.
Research can also help astronomers observe for the first time a concentration of black hole.
Koss and his team focused on galaxies with an average distance of 330 million light years from Earth. Many of the galaxies are of similar size to the Milky Way. The images suggest what will probably happen in about one billion years when our own galaxy is based on the next Andromeda galaxy.