NASA warns of a runaway black hole: an invisible monster

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April 7, 2023 | 9:45 a.m

There’s a “runaway” black hole ripping through the universe – and NASA is calling it an “invisible monster out there”.

“There is an invisible monster on the loose, traversing intergalactic space so fast that if it were in our solar system, it could go from Earth to the Moon in 14 minutes,” NASA wrote in a statement.

The supermassive black hole has created a trail of stars like never before, leaving behind 200,000 light-years of newborn stars twice the diameter of the Milky Way.

Instead of devouring the stars in front of it, it rushes through the gas in front of it to create a new star formation in a narrow lane.

“The streaks of a black hole are so fast that it doesn’t take time for a snack,” NASA joked.

The path should have created a lot of new stars because it is about half as bright as the host galaxy.

The “invisible beast” is at the end of the pole of its parent galaxy, with a “noticeably bright knot” of ionized oxygen at the outer end.

We think we are witnessing a wake behind the black hole as gas cools and is capable of forming stars. So, we’re looking at the formation of stars that follow the black hole,” Peter van Dokkum said Yale University He said. “What we see are the consequences. Like a vigil behind a ship we watch beyond a black hole.”

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Scientists think that the gas is being shocked and heated by the movement of the black hole or that the accretion disk around the black hole is causing the radiation.

“The gas in front of it gets shocked by this supersonic impact and the high speed of the black hole moving through the gas. Exactly how it works is not really known,” Van Dokkum said.

Never before has it been seen before, NASA said, and the Hubble Space Telescope captured this rare sighting “accidentally.”

Van Dokkum was actually searching for globular clusters in a nearby dwarf galaxy when he discovered the black hole. He described Star Trail as “absolutely amazing, very bright, and very unusual.”

Never before has it been seen before, NASA said, and the Hubble Space Telescope captured this rare sighting “accidentally.”
NASA, ESA, Leah Hostack (STScI)

“It is pure coincidence that we found it by chance,” he said. “I was just scanning through the Hubble image and then noticed we had a little streak. I immediately thought, ‘Oh, a cosmic ray is hitting the camera detector and causing a linear imaging artifact.’ When we removed the cosmic rays we realized they were still there. It didn’t look like anything. We’ve seen it before.”

In order to find out exactly what this strange image they were seeing, Van Dokkum and his team did follow-up spectroscopy with the WM Keck Observatories in Hawaii, where they eventually concluded that they were seeing traces of a black hole accelerating through the galaxy.

The black hole, which weighs as much as 20 million suns, is most likely caused by “a rare galactic pool game between three supermassive black holes” – multiple collisions of supermassive black holes.

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The supermassive black hole has created a trail of stars like never before, leaving behind 200,000 light-years of newborn stars twice the diameter of the Milky Way.
NASA, European Space Agency, Peter van Dokkum (Yale); Image processing: Joseph DiPasquale (STScI)

Astronomers believe that the runaway black hole was freed after the merger of two galaxies about 50 million years ago – which combined two supermassive black holes at their center. Then came a third galaxy with its own supermassive black hole, and the three combined to form a “chaotic and unstable formation”.

NASA wrote, “This follows the old idiom: ‘A company of two and three is a crowd.'” “

Researchers believe that one black hole gained momentum from the other two and escaped from its host galaxy, while the other two shot off in the opposite direction.

Scientists said the next step is to confirm the explanation behind the black hole by using the James Webb Space Telescope and the Chandra X-ray Observatory to follow up on the observations.




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