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SuperMassive Black Hole Ejected from Galaxy at Several Million Miles per Hour

 

           Cid42


Astronomers have found strong evidence that a massive black hole is being ejected from its host galaxy at a speed of several million miles per hour. New observations from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory suggest that the black hole collided and merged with another black hole and received a powerful recoil kick from gravitational wave radiation.

"It's hard to believe that a supermassive black hole weighing millions of times the mass of the sun could be moved at all, let alone kicked out of a galaxy at enormous speed," said Francesca Civano of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA), who led the new study. "But these new data support the idea that gravitational waves -- ripples in the fabric of space first predicted by Albert Einstein but never detected directly -- can exert an extremely powerful force."

Although the ejection of a supermassive black hole from a galaxy by recoil because more gravitational waves are being emitted in one direction than another is likely to be rare, it nevertheless could mean that there are many giant black holes roaming undetected out in the vast spaces between galaxies.

"These black holes would be invisible to us," said co-author Laura Blecha, also of CfA, "because they have consumed all of the gas surrounding them after being thrown out of their home galaxy."Civano and her group have been studying a system known as CID-42, located in the middle of a galaxy about 4 billion light years away. They had previously spotted two distinct, compact sources of optical light in CID-42, using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope.

More optical data from the ground-based Magellan and Very Large Telescopes in Chile supplied a spectrum (that is, the distribution of optical light with energy) that suggested the two sources in CID-42 are moving apart at a speed of at least 3 million miles per hour.

Previous Chandra observations detected a bright X-ray source likely caused by super-heated material around one or more supermassive black holes. However, they could not distinguish whether the X-rays came from one or both of the optical sources because Chandra was not pointed directly at CID-42, giving an X-ray source that was less sharp than usual.

"The previous data told us that there was something special going on, but we couldn't tell if there were two black holes or just one," said another co-author Martin Elvis, also of CfA. "We needed new X-ray data to separate the sources."

When Chandra's sharp High Resolution Camera was pointed directly at CID-42, the resulting data showed that X-rays were coming only from one of the sources. The team thinks that when two galaxies collided, the supermassive black holes in the center of each galaxy also collided. 

The two black holes then merged to form a single black hole that recoiled from gravitational waves produced by the collision, which gave the newly merged black hole a sufficiently large kick for it to eventually escape from the galaxy. The other optical source is thought to be the bright star cluster that was left behind. This picture is consistent with recent computer simulations of merging black holes, which show that merged black holes can receive powerful kicks from the emission of gravitational waves.

There are two other possible explanations for what is happening in CID-42. One would involve an encounter between three supermassive black holes, resulting in the lightest one being ejected. Another idea is that CID-42 contains two supermassive black holes spiraling toward one another, rather than one moving quickly away.

Both of these alternate explanations would require at least one of the supermassive black holes to be very obscured, since only one bright X-ray source is observed. Thus the Chandra data support the idea of a black hole recoiling because of gravitational waves.

The Chandra  image below shows that the galaxy CID-42 likely contains a massive black hole being ejected at several million miles per hour. The main panel is a wide-field optical image of CID-42 and the area around it. The outlined box represents the more localized view of CID-42 that is shown in the three separate boxes on the right-hand side of the graphic. An image from Chandra (top box) shows that the X-ray emission is concentrated in a single source, corresponding to one of the two sources seen in deep observations by Hubble (middle box).

 

                  Cid42_420

         

Journal reference: Astrophysical Journal 

The Daily Galaxy via Chandra X-ray Center  

Image credits: X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO/F.Civano et al; Optical: NASA/STScI; Optical (wide field): CFHT, NASA/STScIThe source is located in the Cosmic Evolution Survey (COSMOS) field, a large, multi-wavelength survey.

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Comments

what am i missing here. i thought that nothing could escape a black hole?

RUN!

This is the equivalent of the only thing that can stop a chuck norris round house being another chuck norris roundhouse...C'mon man its physics...duh

Martyn,

What you're missing is the event horizon. Anything inside a black hole's event horizon can never escape. Anything outside that limit can escape.

Planet Crypton seems to send us Superman.

Whoa, this is cool! I have many questions (which yield more questions) I wish the article addressed though:

1. How far away from earth is this happening?

2. Which direction is the speeding black hole going?
-Toward earth?
-Away from earth?
-In the general direction of earth, but not directly at earth?

3. At the speed it's going, if it was aimed directly at earth, how long would it take the black hole to reach earth at the speed it's traveling.

4. What's happening to all the space debris (stars, planets, dust, etc...) that comes into contact with the black hole as it speeds through space?
-Does this speeding black hole act the same as a regular black hole that is at the center of a galaxy?
-Does it's rate of speed affect it's ability to devour everything in it's path? (Maybe increased kinetic energy means it's more powerful, if that's even possible. Or maybe it's moving so fast, space debris has a better chance of surviving an encounter.)

5. Are there gravitational waves in it's wake? (Like waves from a boat?)
-If so, and this black hole is speeding by earth, could that wake reach earth?
-If the wake could reach earth, would we notice it? How would we notice it? What would the effect be?

Wow, so cool, and I have many more questions, but I'll leave it at that.

Okay, assuming it has been ejected. My pressing question remains "If there is a supermassive black hole at the center of each galaxy and if this is the source of gravity that holds the galaxy together, what happens if you remove the super massive black hole? Does the galaxy slowly drift apart or collapse??"

New observations from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory suggest that the black hole collided and merged with another black hole and received a powerful recoil kick from gravitational wave radiation.

OK I admit I'm one of lifes thicky's, but if one Black Hole MERGED with another Black Hole, would it not have crossed the Event Horizon, so could not escape?

martyn thompson
Im not sure but I think you are looking at it backwards. The galaxy didnt escape from the black hole, the black hole escaped from the galaxy.
I wonder if they considered the possibility that a rouge black hole is passing through the galaxy? Im sure the extreme explanation sells more papers, and I guess its as possible as any other, it just sounds "reaching".

"Black holes" and "event horizons" only "exists" in mathematical equations and not in the real world.

Cosmic galactic swirls are just formative motions in 3D Cell-like circuits of thermodynamics and electro-magnetodynamics.

- If there was a "black hole" in our galaxy, the objects in the galaxy would move with different orbiting speed towards the centre, which they don’t accordingly to the "galactic rotation anomaly" that contradict the "celestial movement of objects around a gravity centre".

The "gravity model" is very wrong, especially on the large cosmic scale, and the cosmological scientists get more and more confused using this model as a basis for cosmic knowledge.

Ivar Nielsen
Natural Philosopher

thanks everyone. it didn't help but thanks for trying.

@SpaceStudGenius: ...'located in the middle of a galaxy about 4 billion light years away.' I don't think you need to worry too much..

martyn thompson
1 last try. Maybe its the size of the event horizon that has you confused. My understanding that for most black holes an event horizon the size of the Earth is about normal. For a black hole that anchors a galaxy, it might be as large as the solar system. There are formulas to figure these out.

"what am i missing here. i thought that nothing could escape a black hole?"
unless you are a black hole ;)) :P.

"what am i missing here. i thought that nothing could escape a black hole?"

I'll try and put this as simple as possible. You are correct to state that nothing escapes a black hole ONCE it has passed the event horizon. This is a hypothetical sphere surrounding the singularity that denotes the volume around it in which the force of gravity is strong enough to beat an escape velocity of c (speed of light). Since according to modern understandings of physics nothing can travel faster than light it is assumed that nothing can escape the pull of a black hole's gravity once it is beyond the event horizon (size of the event horizon is directly dependent on the black hole's mass). Not even light since it too is limited to c. OK now that we established that let's move on to the article.

What is happening here is that two black holes have merged into one. Rotating black holes 'drag' space-time around them as they spin which creates gravity waves (dragging of space-time or frame-dragging has been shown in experiments with a possible error of 19% and efforts to reduce the margin to an acceptable 1% are ongoing)... ripples in space-time if you will. When two black holes with opposing spins collide the clash of the gravity waves can produce enough force to send the resulting (combined) black hole flying through space at a very large speed.

However this does not mean that the newly formed black hole (only one now remember) will drag the rest of the galaxy with it since gravity is an inverse square law which means at twice the distance from a massive object the four times less it pulls on you.

Most of the confusion in this thread stems from the fact that people think that just because there are super-massive black holes in the centers of galaxies it means those entire galaxies are revolving around their SM black holes like some cosmic gravity anchors ... no ... even tho they are called super-massive they are nowhere near massive enough to hold entire galaxies together. They are hardly massive enough to hold the inner galactic core together. A push hard enough can send it flying off into the distance and the galaxy will happily continue to revolve just as it did before ... the immediate surroundings of what used to be the spot where it was might get jumbled up and pretty much everything in it's path is screwed but the rest of the galaxy will keep on spinning like nothing ever happened. Galactic collisions with SM Black hole collisions happen all the time on cosmic scales and the only question was weather enough gravity wave force could be produced to actually send one flying off into the void. Apparently according to the article it could.

Now to answer some of Joni's questions:

"1. How far away from earth is this happening?"

- 4 billion light years. Since nothing in the universe can move at speeds faster than the speed of light (c) the earliest we could ever hope to experience any effects from this particular black hole is in a bit under 4 billion years. At 3 million miles an hour the black hole is moving approximately 225 times slower than light which means we can expect it to arrive near earth in about 1.1 trillion years. That is assuming it's heading this way at all.

"2. Which direction is the speeding black hole going? "
the article doesn't really say. And I don't think they really know the direction since they based the assumption on spectrum readings and not viewable change. At 4 billion light years away even something moving at the speed of light would hardly if at all be noticeable to us.

"3. At the speed it's going, if it was aimed directly at earth, how long would it take the black hole to reach earth at the speed it's traveling."

Like I said in response to question no.1 approximately 1.1 trillion years.

"4. What's happening to all the space debris (stars, planets, dust, etc...) that comes into contact with the black hole as it speeds through space? ..."

Whatever is straight in it's path will be consumed. If it's still rotating frame-drag might save some of the stuff at the peripherals of the direct path but most of the stuff that is straight in front of or near it's path will be consumed.

"-Does this speeding black hole act the same as a regular black hole that is at the center of a galaxy?"

At those speeds the super-massive black hole will most likely drag a lot of space-time with it and create some nasty distortions along the way but all of this is still pure speculation since it can only be tested on computer generated models.

"-Does it's rate of speed affect it's ability to devour everything in it's path? (Maybe increased kinetic energy means it's more powerful, if that's even possible. Or maybe it's moving so fast, space debris has a better chance of surviving an encounter.)"

Anything on this subject is pure speculation since we can only guess how much the newly formed SM black hole would drag space-time with it or around it if it's still spinning.

"5. Are there gravitational waves in it's wake? (Like waves from a boat?)"

There should be ... however their size would be enormous and since they distort both space and time we would be hard-pressed to notice them at those scales without some very high precision tools like the LIGO observatory or the planned LISA project ...

"-If so, and this black hole is speeding by earth, could that wake reach earth?"

yes it could ... theory is that gravitational waves from colliding spinning black holes and neutron stars are passing by us all the time and we have several experiments ongoing trying to detect them.

"-If the wake could reach earth, would we notice it? How would we notice it? What would the effect be?"

Probably not ... the waves would be huge and the distortion in space and time so negligible at those scales that we wouldn't feel them at all. Maybe specialist equipment could but we are still struggling to build some tools with high enough sensitivity to pick up gravity waves.

If you could feel them the effect would be time flowing at different rates at different points on the planet (at the same altitude) or space distorting aka things being wider or taller at one point than on another even tho they are built to be the same all over. However the waves would have to be extremely small for us to notice them locally.

Now wasn't that simple :) ?

So what happens to the space that the black hole has moved out of at one point that place was occupied by a black hole is that area of space normal?

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