Newly discovered pair of black holes could collide within three years

The researchers noticed that the fluctuations of light,emanating from the center of the galaxy SDSS J1430+2303 resemble the approach of two supermassive black holes. If the observations are confirmed, the collision will occur within the next three years.

Earlier this year, Chinese astrophysicistspublished a preprint of an article reporting the strange behavior of light at the center of the galaxy SDSS J1430+2303. Over the course of three years, the oscillations in the galactic core became shorter and shorter, from a time period of about a year to just one month. This observation suggested that there are two converging black holes at the center of this galaxy.

In a new study, scientists from the UniversityGuangzhou has been observing SDSS J1430+2303 for 200 days with X-ray telescopes. They confirmed changes in the X-ray light being studied by the galaxy, as well as the type of radiation associated with the fall of iron on a black hole, characteristic of black hole mergers. However, current observations still do not provide a clear answer. These effects may be related to the merger or some other unknown process that is taking place at the galactic center.

Artistic depiction of two black holes colliding. Source: NASA Goddard

However, it is not entirely clear that what is happening inthe center of J1430+2303, is generally the result of a binary black hole, not to mention one that is about to collapse. Galactic nuclei are strange places that emit signals that are difficult to interpret, meaning that perhaps something else could be causing the variability in the heart of J1430+2303.

Black hole collisions were first discovered in2015. Since then, scientists have repeatedly recorded such events, but we know about all of them only from indirect data - a gravitational disturbance propagating through space-time. Most of the collisions discovered to date are black holes with a mass slightly larger than the Sun. It is these events that are recorded by the gravitational sensors of the LIGO and Virgo observatories.

Observations of the galaxy SDSS J1430+2303showed that in its center with a high probability there are two closely spaced black holes with a total mass of 200 million Suns. The collision of such objects will cause a powerful flash, which can be observed in all spectra of light.

Astrophysicists note that the data contained insuch an outburst can reveal a lot about how supermassive black holes form. One hypothesis says that they are the result of a binary merger of several objects.

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