Merging galaxies fuel mega black holes | 11/17/2018 | Eleanor Imster
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This simulation shows a merger between 2 galaxies. In the merger’s late stages, the nuclei, or central portions, of the galaxies become very luminous due to emission from gas falling rapidly onto their central supermassive black holes. Read more about this video here.

The University of Florida reported on November 9, 2018, that a team of its researchers – led by led by Michael Koss of Eureka Scientific Inc. in Kirkland, Washington – has just completed the largest-yet survey of the cores of nearby galaxies in near-infrared light. The team used more than 20 years of high-resolution images from the vast archive of the Hubble Space Telescope, and they used images from the W. M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii. Looking in the infrared let them peer through the gas and dust surrounding the galaxies’ cores. They were specifically looking for merging galaxies, places where close pairs of supermassive black holes were coalescing into mega black holes. And they weren’t disappointed. Koss commented in a statement:

Pairs - Nuclei - Cores - Holes

Seeing the pairs of merging galaxy nuclei [or cores] associated with these huge black holes, so close together, was pretty amazing.

The survey galaxies’ average distance was 330 million light-years from Earth. But the survey results offer a glimpse of what will likely happen closer to home, some 4.5 billion years from now, when our Milky Way galaxy combines with the neighboring Andromeda Galaxy. At that time, as these scientists said:


… their respective central black holes smash together.

This series of illustrations shows the predicted merger – billions of years from now – between our Milky Way galaxy and the neighboring Andromeda Galaxy. Read more about these images, which are via NASA/ESA/Z. Levay and R. van der Marel, STScI/T. Hallas, and A. Mellinger.

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The 2019 lunar calendars are here! Order yours before they’re gone. Makes a great gift.

Study team member...
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