As many astronomy fans out there know already, every galaxy in the Universe has one supermassive black hole in their center. NGC 6240, however, is a unique galactic merger that has three supermassive black holes.
Scientists found that NGC 6240 galactic merger has three supermassive black holes
Until now, scientists believed that NGC 6240 represents the merging between two galaxies. But, recently, the astrophysicists spotted a third supermassive black hole in this merger. That suggests that NGC 6240 is the result of three galaxies.
“Through our observations with extremely high spatial resolution, we were able to show that the interacting galaxy system NGC 6240 hosts, not two – as previously assumed – but three supermassive black holes in its center,” stated Wolfram Kollatschny from the University of Gottingen in Germany.
Astronomers spotted NGC 6240 in 1983, and since then, they have carried on several studies to find out more about what they believed to be a galactic merger formed by two galaxies. As you have read above, that changed recently when the scientists found a third supermassive black hole, suggesting that three galaxies, not two, are on the process of merging.
This galactic merger is unique, never before seen in the Universe
Even though astronomers spotted another triple merged earlier this year, NGC 6240 is unique because its supermassive black holes are close to each other. That suggests that the merging process in NGC 6240 is in its final phase.
“Such a concentration of three supermassive black holes has so far never been discovered in the Universe. The present case provides evidence of a simultaneous merging process of three galaxies along with their central black holes,” explained Peter Weilbacher, an astrophysicist at the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam, in Germany.
Even though NGC 6240 is in the last stage of merging, it would take billions of years from now for the process to complete. Scientists are intrigued to explore this particular galactic merger. The recent study on the third supermassive black hole was published in the Astronomy & Astrophysics journal.
Vadim is a passionate writer on various topics but especially on stuff related to health, technology, and science. Therefore, for Great Lakes Ledger, Vadim will cover health and Sci&Tech news.