Black holes: an exceptional discovery made in the center of a galaxy

Black holes: an exceptional discovery made in the center of a galaxy


A team of astronomers announces they have discovered three supermassive black holes concentrated in a small space in the center of a galaxy. It’s a first.

It is believed that at the center of all large galaxies is a black hole millions of times more massive than the Sun. When two of these galaxies collide – as is the case here – we may find two black holes to merge into one and the same object. However, three supermassive black holes found in the heart of a galaxy, it was unheard of. The results of this study were published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

“Thanks to our observations with an extremely high spatial resolution, we have been able to show that the interacting galaxy system is hosting not two, as previously thought, but three supermassive black holes at its center,” Wolfram Kollatschny explains. University of Göttingen, Germany. Until now, such a concentration of three supermassive black holes had never been observed in the Universe.

You will find all this beautiful world at 300 million light-years, in a galaxy called NGC 6240. The first analyzes, obtained thanks to the Very Large Telescope (VLT), installed in Chile, made it possible to estimate the measurements of these three objects: about 90 million solar masses. Also amazingly, these three huge black holes are grouped in a very small space of about 3,000 light-years in diameter.

An expected merger
For the moment, we do not know how such a configuration could have occurred. It remains very unusual in that only two galaxies are represented here. Once upon a time, scientists came across three black holes about to merge. On the other hand, in this case, there are three galaxies in play, each with its black hole.

All we know for the moment is that, eventually, these black holes would normally meet to form a single heavy mastodon like 270 million suns.

Such an event should also produce large gravitational waves. Unfortunately, it is very likely that we will not be in this world the day it happens. Nevertheless, it may be possible to receive the signals of other such mergers that were operated millions of years ago.