A long-standing theory claims a supermassive black hole is capable of lots of things, including wandering through space. A black hole alone is scary enough, but imagine one in motion. How is this possible?
Recently, astronomers have spotted a supermassive black hole on the loose and they have proof. Previous attempts of catching a black hole in motion have turned out to be too challenging.
Here is what you need to know.
Moving Black Hole Caught on Camera
The recent discovery puzzles astronomers’ work even more. What can a black hole in motion do? Are the speeds of the black hole similar to the speeds of the galaxies they are?
A team of researchers, however, has decided to answer those questions and investigated the case.
The team’s work
Researchers have been working to analyze this unique event for the last five years. They ran a series of tests, came up with simulations, and compared the speeds of galaxies and supermassive black holes.
The team examined up to 10 distant galaxies and the nearby supermassive black holes. One of the researchers, Dominic Pesce, an astronomer at the Center for Astrophysics, discussed how complicated supermassive black holes in motion are:
“[…] how much more difficult it is to kick a bowling ball into motion than it is to kick a soccer ball — realizing that in this case, the ‘bowling ball’ is several million times the mass of our Sun.”
For their investigation, the researchers also used a technique dubbed VLBI (very long baseline interferometry) that helped them spot the black hole on the loose.
The supermassive black hole captured by the team is running with a speed of approximately 110,000 miles/h, close to the galaxy J0437+2456.
The team doesn’t know yet why the black hole is in motion. But there are two possibilities.
First, the black hole could be part of a binary system, which is incredibly intriguing. Second, the event is an aftermath of two supermassive black holes merging. The last scenario has been spotted before.
More observations are needed to determine the black hole’s unusual motion.