Some astronomers believes that once two supermassive black holes get close enough together, reducing their distance to 1 parsec (3.2 light years), they may dance for an eternity. If scientists manage to detect the gravitational wave background, it'll help solve some of the biggest mysteries about the universe, like how often galaxies merge, or whether two supermassive black holes on a collision course merge or become stuck in the never-ending warps of their own. When the black holes finally meet, nobody knows what will happen, and astronomers can only guess what the result might be.
"If the gravitational wave background just isn't detected this might indicate that supermassive black holes merge exclusively over extremely long timescales, remaining as shut separation binaries for a lot of Hubble times, the so-called 'final-parsec problem, '" write the researchers.
The pair of black holes is more than just supermassive, each black hole has a mass of more than 800 million suns.
"The merger of 2 black holes is the most powerful event in the Universe, releasing more power than the rest of the Universe combined".
The gravitational waves the newly-discovered black holes generate prior to colliding with each other already dwarf those previously detected from the collision of small black holes and neutron stars.
"The type of disc we see is a scaled-down quasar that we did not expect to exist", Stefano Bianchi, first author of a new paper on the black hole published Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, said in a statement. Enlisting the help of gravitational wave physicists, the monster black holes 2.5 billion light-years away help to refine the approximations of how common supermassive black hole pairs like this actually are.
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The telltale gravitational waves generated by merging supermassive black holes are outside the frequencies now observable by experiments such as LIGO and Virgo, which have detected the mergers of much smaller black holes and neutron stars.
The pair of colliding black holes is now observed to be 430 parsecs apart.
Detecting the gravitational wave background using one of these pulsar timing arrays takes patience and plenty of monitored stars. The get-together produces intense gravitational waves that ripple through the fabric of space and time. The louder the background noise, the more massive the timing disruptions, and the quicker the detection will be made.
Goulding, Greene and the other observational astronomers on the team detected the two titans with the Hubble Space Telescope. What's more, the galaxy's core is shooting out two unusually colossal plumes of gas.
Based on the findings, Pardo and Mingarelli predict that in an optimistic scenario there are about 112 nearby supermassive black holes emitting gravitational waves.