The collision is expected to take place 100,000 years from now. It will be so powerful that gravitational waves will shake the universe.
Scientists have found that a pair of supermassive black holes in the Virgo constellation is circling a lot closer than they initially thought.
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These two black holes are orbiting so close that they will eventually crash into each other. The impact will be so powerful that it will shake the fabric of entire universe. But the good news is it will not happen before 100,000 years from now.
The black holes are 3.5 billion light years away from earth and are separated from each other by a mere light-week. That is the closest distance so far. The previous closest was when two black holes were 20 light years away from each other.
“This is the closest we’ve come to observing two black holes on their way to a massive collision,” said Zoltan Haiman, a Columbia University astronomer and lead author of the study. “Watching this process reach its culmination can tell us whether black holes and galaxies grow at the same rate and ultimately test a fundamental property of space-time: its ability to carry vibrations called gravitational waves, produced in the last, most violent, stage of the merger.”
Most giant galaxies including the Milky Way have a supermassive black hole in their center. They grow bigger and bigger over time by gobbling up stars, galaxies and even other black holes. When two massive black holes are about to collide, they start flickering. The quasar which contains the black holes, brightens and dims at regular intervals.
Using telescopes in Arizona and Australia, scientists found that this particular quasar PG 1302-102, which was discovered last winter, brightens by 14 percent every five years. Scientists created theoretical models to find out that black holes are rotating at a very high speed and their orbiting is spiral rather than even. They are getting closer and closer until one day they will smash into each other and this can happen anywhere between 20,000 to 350,000 years from now. The collision will produce enormous gravitational waves in the cosmos and will display Einstein’ theory of relativity in a most extreme environment.
“The detection of gravitational waves let us probe the secrets of gravity and test Einstein’s theory in the most extreme environment in our universe black holes.” Co-author Daniel D’Orazio said.
The study was published in Nature.