Twin Supermassive Black Holes Found At Nearby Galaxy's Heart

Monday, June 13, 2011 - 17:00 in Astronomy & Space

Markarian 739 In visible light, Markarian 739 resembles a smiling face, with a pair of bright cores underscored by an arcing spiral arm. The object is really a pair of merging galaxies. Data from Swift and Chandra reveal the eastern core (left) to be a previously unknown supermassive black hole; past studies already had identified one in the western core. The two supermassive black holes are separated by about 11,000 light-years. The galaxy is 425 million light-years away. NASA/SDSS A nearby galaxy that looks like a smiley face harbors a dark secret: It has twin supermassive black holes, not just one. This rare find could shed light on what happens when ginormous galaxies collide. Supermassive black holes churn at the heart of most galaxies, including our own, weighing millions of times the sun's mass and radiating billions of times more energy. These black holes sometimes radiate so much that they're considered...

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