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Science And Nature

Galaxy’s violent destruction acted as ‘black hole delivery service’

The absorption of a little galaxy right into a larger spiral galaxy appears to have acted as a ‘black hole delivery system’ leaving a distant galaxy with two supermassive black holes which will eventually collide.

A team of astronomers used the Hubble Space Telescope and the Chandra X-ray Observatory to see the spiral galaxy NGC 4424, located 54 million light-years away in the Virgo galactic cluster, and identify an elongated red object as a little cluster of stars.

The team nicknamed the star cluster ‘Nikhull’a word extracted from the Sumi language linked to the Tulini festive amount of celebrating and wishing for a rich harvest and thinks that it had been after the nucleus of a little galaxy that collided with NGC 4424 and had the majority of its stars violently ripped away.

Related: Colliding black holes could clock universe’s expansion rate

As Nikhull was extended by the gravitational forces of NGC 4424 it deposited a supermassive black hole that once sat at the biggest market of the consumed galaxy. It now lurks about 1,300 light-years from the biggest market of the spiral galaxy. It is a distance 20 times closer than Earth would be to Sagittarius A* (Sgr A*), the supermassive black hole at the biggest market of the Milky Way.

The procedure is described by the astronomers as “black hole seeding by capture and sinking.” It might give scientists an improved picture of how both galaxies and the supermassive black holes at their hearts grow.

The 45,000 light-year-wide main image of NGC 4424 was captured by Hubble and shows the galaxy in optical light. At the biggest market of NGC 4424 may be the galaxy’s own supermassive black hole that is estimated to possess a mass equal to between 60,000 to 100,000 suns. Furthermore central black hole, the spiral galaxy is considered to house an incredible number of stellar mass black holes with masses between five and 30 times that of sunlight.

Close-up view of NGC 4424. A bright purple and blue galaxy can be seen against a cluster of red stars.

Close-up view of NGC 4424. (Image credit: Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/Swinburne Univ. of Technology/A. Graham et al.; Optical: NASA/ESA/STScI)

The close-up image of NGC 4424 is approximately 1,700 light-years wide and comprises of X-ray data that was captured by Chandra, and infrared light seen by Hubble. Observed in blue, the X-rays observed by Chandra tend due to material slowly being fed to a supermassive black hole within the star cluster.

The team estimates that supermassive black hole includes a mass of between 40,000 and 150,000 times that of sunlight. In addition they claim that Nikhull’s progenitor galaxy could have acted as a delivery system for a few of NGC 4424’s other smaller black holes.

Eventually, both supermassive black holes of NGC 4424 should move as well as Nikhuli’s supermassive black hole settling into an orbit round the native and central supermassive black hole.

The length between the couple of black holes will shrink as gravitational waves carry energy from the system. This will result in a collision with both supermassive black holes merging to generate a far more massive black hole.

A paper detailing the team’s findings has been published in The Astrophysical Journal. (opens in new tab)

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