Two supermassive black holes, each 800 million times more massive than our sun, are on a cosmic collision course one with the other.
Fortunately, according to a study published in the newspaper, the two black holes are about 2.5 billion light-years away from us on Earth. The letters of the astrophysical journal Wednesday, it will take so long for astronomers to detect the cosmic waves emitted by the collision. But in the meantime, their very existence could help astronomers better understand the black holes of the universe.
When the black holes reach the last days of their fatal approach, they will emit gravitational waves a thousand times more powerful than those found at LIGO, explained the Chiara Mingarelli scientist of the Flatiron Institute for Computational Astrophysics in a press release .
"Supermassive black hole binaries produce the strongest gravitational waves in the universe," she said.
According to the press release, scientists expect to capture the waves emitted by other collisions over the next five years, based on the location of others. known supermassive black holes. If this is not the case, this will provide evidence for the so-called "final parsec problem," suggesting that supermassive black holes never meet. Instead, it holds, they simply enter an endless spiral as soon as they reach a parsec, or about 3.2 light-year distances from each other.
"It's a major problem for astronomy that we do not know if supermassive black holes come together," said Jenny Greene, an astrophysicist at Princeton, in a press release. "For all black hole physics specialists, observation is a long-standing puzzle that we must solve."
The models predict that the final parsec problem is insurmountable unless three or more supermassive black holes merge. If this is true, astronomers will not detect any of these gravitational waves.
But if astronomers detect new waves in the next few years, it will mean that supermassive black holes can meet and merge into even larger stellar monstrosities – a discovery that would condemn the two distant black holes to their distant collision.
READ MORE: Astronomers have discovered a distant pair of titanic black holes on a collision course.[[[[Press Room at Princeton University]
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