The group of supermassive black holes are spitting out radio waves in the same direction. The discovery may shed light on the orientation and evolution of the galaxies, in relation to large-scale structures of the universe.
Astronomers have spotted an unusual group of supermassive black holes in deep space. The black holes are mysteriously aligned and emitting radio waves in the same direction, like arrows on all compasses pointing a specific direction.
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The group of black holes are located in the region called ELAIS-N1 and apparently they are not connected to each other in any way. There is a gap of millions of light years between them. But when researchers used a highly sensitive radio telescope for taking a good look at these supermassive black holes, they observed a peculiar similarity between them. All black holes are spinning out radio wave jets in the same direction and this kind of correspondence is not possible unless these black holes lying in the cores of giant galaxies themselves are not spinning in the same direction. It is likely a result of primordial fluctuations, the density variations in the early universe which gave rise to the structure of the universe. In other words, the galaxies are separate from each other today but they are likely originated from same density variations shortly after the formation of universe.
“Since these black holes don't know about each other, or have any way of exchanging information or influencing each other directly over such vast scales, this spin alignment must have occurred during the formation of the galaxies in the early universe.” Prof Andrew Russ Taylor, principle author of the study said.
The bizarre discovery was accidental. Astronomers were originally detecting the faintest radio sources in the universe using powerful radio telescopes in South Africa, MeerKAT radio telescope and the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) radio telescope when they stumbled across the regions within a large-scale structure where the spin axes of galaxies were unusually lined up.
This mysterious alignment can provide more insight in to the formation and evolution of the galaxies and may hint on the environmental influences that forced those galaxies into alignment. Scientists are considering several options like cosmic magnetic fields, fields associated with axions or even cosmic strings could create alignment in galaxies. These are all theories; valid explanation of the alignment is yet to be made.
“This is not obviously expected based on our current understanding of cosmology. It’s a bizarre finding,” said Prof Romeel Dave.
Scientists believe that the finding will help them better understand the orientation of large-scale structure of the universe and enable them to test theories related to it.
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“We're beginning to understand how the large-scale structure of the universe came about, starting from the Big Bang and growing as a result of disturbances in the early universe, to what we have today,” said professor Taylor. “and that helps us explore what the universe of tomorrow will be like.”