As NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory explains in a new post, astronomers using powerful imaging hardware, including three of NASA's own telescopes, have spotted a trio of black holes in the midst of a cosmic dance.
Ryan Pfeifle of George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, said: "We were only looking for pairs of black holes at the time, and yet, through our selection technique, we stumbled upon this fantastic system".
"Dual and triple black holes are exceedingly rare", Shobita Satyapal, the study's co-author, said. "Here is the strongest evidence but realized for the form of triple machine of actively feeding supermassive dusky holes".
The system was captured using multiple telescopes on the ground, as well as in space. Initially, the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) telescope, which scans large swaths of the sky in optical light from New Mexico, imaged SDSS J0849+1114.
Next, the researchers looked at data gathered by NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) spacecraft. The machine used to be realized to pleasing intensely in infrared lights. The Chandra X-Ray Observatory showed high levels of X-ray radiation which signifies consumption of large amounts of materials by black holes. Alongside with NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, Chandra additionally realized evidence of huge quantities of gasoline and grime around with out a doubt likely the most dusky holes, as used to be anticipated in a merger of such scale.
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"Through the use of these major observaties, we have identified a new way of identifying triple supermassive black holes", said Pfeifle. "Each telescope gives us a different clue about what's going on in these systems", Pfeifle said in a statement.
This can be a solution to the theoretical puzzle, called the "final parsec problem", in which two supermassive black holes can approach each other on distance of several light years, but it will take some extra attraction inside to merge because of the excess energy that they carry in their orbits.
In fact, computer simulations by NASA show that 16% of double supermassive black holes in colliding galaxies interacted with a third supermassive black hole, along the way. The discovery of the freakish system with three massive black holes in three different galaxies was part of a research published in The Astrophysical Journal.
This unusual black hole trio was found after a lot of different observations of our universe. A single black hole can devour entire galaxies.
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Astronomers already know a bit about how black holes collide; after all, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) has detected the gravitational waves generated by a number of black-hole mergers.
Until now, scientists have seen examples of two black holes colliding and merging into larger bodies.
Neither LIGO nor Europe's similar Virgo project can detect the gravitational waves produced by mergers of supermassive black holes, by the way.
The new study appears in the latest issue of The Astrophysical Journal.
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