The ‘runaway’ black hole tearing through the universe is creating an ‘amazing’ star trail, NASA says Science and technology news
A runaway black hole is hurtling through the universe, leaving a trail of stars never seen before, NASA says.
The supermassive black hole weighs as much as 20 million suns — and it’s moving so fast it could travel from Earth to the Moon in our solar system in 14 minutes.
It has left a 200,000 light-year trail of newborn stars twice the size of our Milky Way.
The phenomenon was accidentally discovered NASA‘s Hubble Telescope, with the astronomer who spotted it saying the sighting was “purely accidental.”
“It didn’t look like what we’ve seen before,” said Yale University’s Pieter van Dokkum.
The star trail is “pretty amazing, very, very bright and very unusual,” he said, describing it as a ship’s wake.
This led to the conclusion that he was looking at the aftermath of a black hole passing through a halo of gas surrounding the host galaxy.
The stars form when the black hole plows into the gas in front of it, researchers believe.
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The supermassive black hole is likely the result of three black holes colliding. Scientists believe that two of the black holes merged perhaps 50 million years ago before another galaxy merged with its own black hole.
One of the black holes was then ejected from its host galaxy, with one black hole darting in one direction and the other two traveling in the opposite direction.
Scientists will make follow-up observations to confirm this explanation.
The team’s research was published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters on Thursday.