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A pair of near-Earth black holes: the disturbing and astonishing Hubble discovery

Only with the right instruments, including ESO’s Very Large Telescope and the Hubble Space Telescope, were astronomers able to locate and discover the closest binary supermassive black hole system ever seen. They will merge into a single black hole within the next 250 million years. And the show, still today, is shockingly beautiful.

Great image by Hubble-

A group of astronomers, thanks to MUSE, an instrument installed on dell’European Southern Observatory . Very Large Telescope In Chile, he studied and confirmed after some time, the existence of a pair of supermassive black holes closest to Earth before: we are talking about a distance of 89 million light-years, 470 million light-years closer than the previous record. . Black holes have never been seen ‘so close’. Two newly discovered black holes have been found In the center of the galaxy NGC 7727, specifically in the constellation of Aquarius, and, according to hypotheses, the remnants of the nuclei of a galaxy should be dedicated to the collision of two galaxies, which occurred many years ago but we still do not know with absolute certainty. On the other hand, the distance between them is the shortest ever recorded: only 1,600 light-years.

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Astronomers have long suspected the existence of black holes hosted by galactic nuclei, which wasn’t exactly a surprise. They had expected something like this but seeing them had a completely different effect. Especially because so far it has not been possible to confirm the theory due to the absence of high-energy electromagnetic emissions, which are usually associated with this type of celestial body. Ergo, without proof, it is clear that it is not possible to formulate a reliable theory, although it is expected by everyone in the sector. Using MUSE, the instrument we talked about at the beginning (Multi-Unit Spectroscopic Explorer) and the ancillary data provided by the Hubble telescope, the team of astronomers who followed the project led by the astronomer Karina VogelHe was able to track the movements of nearby stars with near perfect accuracy. Through these movements it was possible to write an analysis that allowed to determine the mass of black holes. Spoilers, they are giants! : The largest black hole has a mass of about 154 million solar masses, while its companion has a mass of about 6.3 million solar masses.

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Our discovery suggests that there may be many more remnants of galactic mergers and they could contain many hidden massive black holes still waiting to be discovered.‘, he explains Karina Vogel. “This pThe total number of known supermassive black holes in the local universe could increase by 30%“.