A black hole in space. (Photo: Shutterstock/Vadim Sadovsky)
A supermassive black hole appears to have “escaped” from its host galaxy and is hurtling through space with a string of stars. The giant is 200,000 light years across and very fast.
“If this is confirmed, we will have, for the first time, clear evidence that supermassive black holes can escape galaxies,” said Peter van Dokkum, an astrophysicist at Yale University.
The Dutchman and his team discovered a phenomenon that could be such a runaway black hole. Much larger than the Milky Way, it is dragging a swarm of new stars behind it. about the Study at Arxiv he have Life Science Reports.
The astrophysical jets are basically the bright streaks emanating from black holes. This phenomenon was examined by van Dokkum and his team in the Hubble image.
They determine that it is not an airplane, but that it is likely a tail from a supermassive black hole. This streak is best explained by a black hole slicing through the gas surrounding its galaxy, squeezing it so much that new stars form in its wake.
The tape can be used to calculate its length and the size of the black hole. Livescience writes that the strip of light is about 200,000 light-years long. For comparison: the Milky Way is about 100,000 light years across.
The gas follows a black hole that is believed to be the size of 20 million suns. It is moving away from its host galaxy at about 5.6 million kilometers per hour. This is equivalent to 4,500 times the speed of sound.
Van Dokkum explains how this can happen: “When three objects of similar mass interact gravitationally, the interaction does not lead to the formation of a stable, but usually to the formation of a binary star and the expulsion of the third object.” The object’s interaction may have ejected the black hole.
Such catapult attacks were predicted 50 years ago. Van Dokkum: “But none of it has been seen clearly yet.” In addition to the ground-based Hubble and Keck telescopes, more observatories should be used to confirm that the black hole is indeed leading the tail.
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