Home Technology Caltech researchers detect two supermassive black holes about to violently merge

Caltech researchers detect two supermassive black holes about to violently merge


Caltech researchers, astronomers from the Owens Valley Radio Observatory (California), have detected an astronomical event of cosmic dimensions: two supermassive black holes located 9 billion light-years from our solar system would be “on the point” to collide.

The black holes in question are found at the center of quasar PKS 2131-021. Initially, astronomers believed that the quasar had only one black hole, but a long search and observation work of nearly 13 years revealed a second black hole (so-called binary at supermassive black hole). Every two years, the two supermassive black holes find themselves in orbit with each other, and over time (over a very long time, one might say) get closer… until an inevitable merger.


According to the researchers, the merger of these two black holes should occur within about 10,000 years, an extremely short duration on an astronomical scale. And the shock promises to be epic: each of the two black holes would indeed have a mass hundreds of millions of times greater than that of our Sun, so that the collision between these two monsters will send powerful waves into the universe. gravitational waves (which we now know how to detect).

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This discovery of an “imminent” merger is only the second of its kind: the first observation, established between the years 1965-1971, concerns the quasar OJ 287, whose two supermassive black holes orbit with each other. every 11-12 years.

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