A team of astronomers found a relationship between the collisions of galaxies and the voracity of black holes that may be key to solving critical astrophysical mysteries. The scientists analyzed about 100 galaxies that contain black holes in the process of growth, added to almost 200 inactive galaxies used as a comparison.
The merger of the galaxies enlarges black holes at the center of colliding galaxies. Now, the astronomers believe that they are close to shedding more light on how galaxies form and their connection with supermassive black holes at their cores.
“Thanks to this work, today we are closer to solving two great enigmas of astrophysics – how galaxies formed and how the supermassive black holes that live in the center of them grow, and even more importantly, why the two processes are connected,” said Ezequiel Treister, of the Astrophysics Institute of the Catholic University of Chile, and one of the study’s authors, in a statement.
“What we discovered is that almost 20% of the fast-growing black holes are associated with the last stages of the galaxy collision process, that is, a little before they merge and form a single colossal black hole,” said Treister.
The study sheds more light on what will happen when Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies would collide
The research was recently published in the scientific journal Nature and combined 20 years of Hubble Space Telescope observations, data obtained by the Neil Gehrels Swift X-ray observatory, both belonging to NASA, and the images of distant galaxies captured by the Keck Telescope in Hawaii, according to the study’s report.
The study brought together a dozen scientists who were led by Dr. Michael Koss, of Eureka Scientific Inc, in California, in the US, who noted that images of the work “show what will happen when our galaxy, the Milky Way, fuses with Andromeda and their respective central black holes spiral together.”
The research “could lead to predictions about in what types of galaxies these cosmic events might occur,” he added.
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