Astronomers find supermassive black hole expelled from galaxy center

"If our theory is correct, the observations provide strong evidence that supermassive black holes can actually merge," astronomer Stefano Bianchi said.
By Brooks Hays  |  March 23, 2017 at 3:18 PM
share with facebook
share with twitter

March 23 (UPI) -- Most supermassive black holes are located within the central core of their host galaxy. But with the help of the Hubble Space Telescope, a group of astronomers have located a supermassive black hole expelled from the center of galaxy 3C186, located more than 8 billion light-years from Earth.

Scientists spotted the quasar -- a supermassive black hole with an extremely luminous accretion disk --some 35,000 light years from the center of its host galaxy. It's currently racing away from the galaxy center at a speed of 4.7 million miles per hour.

The supermassive black hole is, as its names suggests, quite massive, tipping the scales at 1 billion solar masses.

"We estimate that it took the equivalent energy of 100 million supernovae exploding simultaneously to jettison the black hole," Stefano Bianchi, an astronomer at Roma Tre University in Italy, said in a news release.

Researchers detailed the quasar in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

Astronomers hypothesize the runaway black hole is the product of a galactic merger -- more specifically, the merger of two central supermassive black holes. Scientists believe gravitational waves created by the merger propelled the supermassive black hole outward. The researchers estimate the merger occurred 1 to 2 billion years ago.

"If our theory is correct, the observations provide strong evidence that supermassive black holes can actually merge," Bianchi said. "There is already evidence of black hole collisions for stellar-mass black holes, but the process regulating supermassive black holes is more complex and not yet completely understood."

Bianchi and his colleagues hope further explorations with other telescopes and observatory instruments will yield new insights into the nature of the unique quasar.

Related UPI Stories
Trending Stories