Miracle! You can be witness to first-ever seen supermassive black hole merger soon | Tech News

Miracle! You can be witness to first-ever seen supermassive black hole merger soon

In what can only be described as miracle timing, in just three year’s time, you will get to witness the first ever seen supermassive black hole merger. Will there be any consequences for the Earth?

| Updated on: Feb 11 2023, 18:09 IST
6 STRANGEST massive black hole discoveries in 2022 that shook the world
supermassive black hole merger
1/6 One of the most startling discoveries of 2022 was a massive black hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy. Known as Sagittarius A*, a direct image of this massive space entity was taken by the Event Horizon Telescope. With around 4 times the mass of our Sun, it is believed that the black hole plays a key role in holding our galaxy together. (Photo courtesy: Nasa)
supermassive black hole merger
2/6 Even as Sagittarius A* lies within our own galaxy, it is not the closest black hole to the Earth. That title goes to the cosmic matter eating void, lying 1,566 light years away from the Earth in the Ophiuchus constellation. It was discovered in November.  (NASA)
supermassive black hole merger
3/6 But if a black hole in our cosmic backyard does not scare you, maybe this will. 2022 was also the year scientists discovered a rogue black hole wandering in space. This discovery is particularly of value since it was always believed that isolated black holes exist but it was never seen due to the difficulty in spotting them. Usually all the black holes we know of are part of a binary system, along with a neutron star. (NASA)
supermassive black hole merger
4/6 A rare moment occurred in December 2022 when NASA spotted a black hole eating a passing star in a rare moment known as a tidal disruption event. It was believed that the star consumed by the black hole was similar to our Sun.    (AP)
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5/6 Even after decades of research and space exploration, we have still only observed just a few black holes in the universe. However, a study published this year has made some terrifying claims. Based on the number of stars spotted which are capable of turning into a black hole, and some number crunching on the potential number of stars that can exist, it was said that the universe currently contains 40 quintillion stellar-mass black holes. (AFP)
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6/6 Finally, the brightest black hole was also discovered this year. Known as J1144, this monstrous black hole is 500 times larger than Sagittarius A* and apparently it consumes matter worth the size of the Earth every second. Because of its consumption rate, it has created a massive accretion disk which makes it so bright. In fact, it can even be seen using a regular telescope. (NASA)
supermassive black hole merger
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Amazingly, a supermassive black hole merger is going to happen soon. This will be the first time anyone on Earth will get to witness such an event. (NASA)

As it is, finding a supermassive black hole in itself is a big challenge. It is the most elusive celestial body as it is nearly impossible to directly see them. This is mainly because a black hole consumes everything in its vicinity, including light. That's why it was an incredibly rare discovery when it was found that two supermassive black holes were going to collide and merge. No one on Earth has ever seen such an event, let alone collect data from it. And now, we have a chance to not only observe the merger of black holes, but also find out some secrets about the universe we never knew existed.

According to a study published in arXiv titled ‘Tick-Tock: The Imminent Merger of a Supermassive Black Hole Binary', a group of researchers have found that two supermassive black holes, located in a galaxy billions of light-years away, are going to merge in just three years' time. The study notes, “If the interpretation is true, coordinated, multi-band electromagnetic campaign should be planned for this first binary SMBH (supermassive black hole binaries) merger event observed in human history, together with possible neutrino measurements”.

What happens when black holes collide

The galaxy SDSS J1430+2303 is a unique piece of puzzle for astronomers. It has an active galactic nucleus that has been claimed to be undergoing a periodic brightness variability that is speeding up. One explanation for this variability is that it could be a supermassive black hole binary. The study has calculated a trajectory, which postulates that this event can happen within three years. This will be the first time we get to observe a collision between two supermassive black holes.

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The first time this strange phenomenon in this galaxy was found was in 2015. Since then, many observations have taken place to understand it better. The current accepted theory is the one that involves black holes.

This event can be scientifically monumental for humanity. Since we have never seen two black holes collide, we do not know the kind of energy that will be emitted once that happens. We also do not know about what happens to the surroundings of such an event. These can not only help us understand black holes better, they can also result in humanity discovering rare energy frequencies and learning more about how gravitational waves function.

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First Published Date: 11 Feb, 18:09 IST