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Astronomers notice Supermassive Black Hole Kicked out of Galaxy 3C186’s Center

March 26, 2017
Astronomers notice Supermassive Black Hole Kicked out of Galaxy 3C186’s Center

Astronomer have noticed a supermassive black hole at the center of galaxy 3C186 being expelled at a fast speed. The 3C186 galaxy observed by astronomers using Hubble Space Telescope is nearly 8 billion light years far from our planet. The supermassive black hole could be as big as 1 billion times of Sun. Astronomers suggest that strong gravitational waves have kicked out the supermassive black hole from the center of galaxy 3C186.

The team working on current project has noticed the supermassive black hole with an extremely luminous accretion disk nearly 35,000 light years from the center of its host galaxy. As per their calculations the black hole is moving at a speed of 4.7 million miles per hour.

Astronomers have earlier predicted that black holes can be kicked out of their host galaxies but as with many other theories related to black holes, this one hasn’t been proved till date. Talking about their discovery, team leader Marco Chiaberge of the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) and Johns Hopkins University, in Baltimore, Maryland said, “When I first saw this, I thought we were seeing something very peculiar. When we combined observations from Hubble, the Chandra X-ray Observatory, and the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, it all pointed towards the same scenario. The amount of data we collected, from X-rays to ultraviolet to near-infrared light, is definitely larger than for any of the other candidate rogue black holes.”

Black holes are massive and they possess strong gravitational pull. Ejecting a black hole from center of galaxy would require enormous pulling force. Researchers estimate that it took the equivalent energy of 100 million supernovas exploding simultaneously to jettison the black hole. The detailed findings of research team will appear in March 30 issue of Astronomy & Astrophysics.

“We estimate that it took the equivalent energy of 100 million supernovae exploding simultaneously to jettison the black hole,” Stefano Bianchi, an astronomer at Roma Tre University in Italy.

Astronomers hypothesize the runaway black hole is the product of a galactic merger — more specifically, the merger of two central supermassive black holes. Scientists believe gravitational waves created by the merger propelled the supermassive black hole outward. The researchers estimate the merger occurred 1 to 2 billion years ago.

The team calculated the black hole’s distance from the core by comparing the distribution of starlight in the host galaxy with that of a normal elliptical galaxy from a computer model. The black hole had traveled more than 35,000 light-years from the center, which is more than the distance between the sun and the center of the Milky Way.

Based on spectroscopic observations taken by Hubble and the Sloan survey, the researchers estimated the black hole’s mass and measured the speed of gas trapped near the behemoth object. Spectroscopy divides light into its component colors, which can be used to measure velocities in space. “To our surprise, we discovered that the gas around the black hole was flying away from the galaxy’s center at 4.7 million miles an hour,” said team member Justin Ely of STScI. This measurement is also a gauge of the black hole’s velocity, because the gas is gravitationally locked to the monster object.

The astronomers calculated that the black hole is moving so fast it would travel from Earth to the moon in three minutes. That’s fast enough for the black hole to escape the galaxy in 20 million years and roam through the universe forever.

The Hubble image revealed an interesting clue that helped explain the black hole’s wayward location. The host galaxy has faint arc-shaped features called tidal tails, produced by a gravitational tug between two colliding galaxies. This evidence suggests a possible union between the 3C 186 system and another galaxy, each with central, massive black holes that may have eventually merged.


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