Three supermassive black holes are seen together. Three monsters devouring light were found at SDSS J084905.51 + 111447.2.
The large system of merging galaxies was discovered by researchers at the Chandra X-ray Observatory and other NASA space telescopes. Astronomers say the unusual system is known as ‘SDSS J084905.51 + 111447.2’ and is located about 1 billion light-years from Earth.
What they say about the supermassive black hole
“We were looking for a pair of black holes at the time. But through selection techniques we found this amazing system,” Ryan Pfeifle of George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia and lead author of a new paper in The Astrophysical Journal was quoted as saying by the Daily Star, Saturday (Saturday) 9/28/2019).
To uncover a trio of rare black holes, the researchers combined data from three telescopes both on land and in space. First, the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) telescope, which observes space from New York, captures the black hole system in optical light.
Volunteers with the Galaxy Zoo project then used the images to mark the system as an ongoing merger of galaxies. Next, the team examined the data collected by the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) spacecraft.
WISE discovered a lot of infrared light coming from the system during the merger phase, where more than one supermassive black hole was expected to be a rapidly increasing material. Additional observations in X-ray and optical light confirm what the researchers think they have unearthed.
NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory then detected a strong source of X-ray near each of the galactic centers, which indicated that much of the gas and dust was consumed there, a sign of feeding black holes. The spacecraft Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array spacecraft (NuSTAR) also found evidence of gas and dust surrounding one of the black holes.
Additional optical-light data collected by the SDSS and the Large Binocular Telescope in Arizona further strengthens the suspicion that the three supermassive black holes are active.
“Through the use of this large observatory, we have indicated a new way of identifying three supermassive black holes. Each telescope gives us different clues about what is happening in this system. We hope to expand our work to find more using the same technique,” Pfeifle said.
According to members of the study team, the distance from each of the closest black holes is from 10,000 light-years to 30,000 light-years. But, the landscape will shrink because black holes seem to be bound to merge like the parent galaxy now.