Scientists around the country have been compiling mounting evidence that a collision between two supermassive black holes is likely to occur very soon.
Astronomers from Caltech have reported that two supermassive black holes appear to be on a collision course for each other. According to a report from the New York Times, the collision may be enough to completely destroy the black holes’ host galaxy, which is approximately 3.5 billion light years away.
The research team noticed a rhythmic blinking from the nucleus of the distant galaxy, originating from a quasar called PG 1302-102. Astronomer Matthew Graham believes the rhythmic pattern indicates two black holes orbiting around each other. Graham estimates that the mass of the black holes exceeds that of one billion suns.
According to calculations performed by the Caltech team, the union between these two black holes could release as much energy as 100 million supernovae. The gravitational waves generated by the massive explosion would create shockwaves that traveled throughout the universe.
Other researchers have confirmed the results of the Graham’s work with their own studies. A new analysis of the binary black hole system from Daniel D’Orazio of Columbia University has proposed that the light emanating from the quasar comes from a large circle of gas that circles the smaller of the black holes.
Models estimate that the black holes orbit each other at a distance of 200 billion miles, which is only one tenth of a light-year. Researchers estimate that the final explosion caused by the merger of these galaxies could occur as soon as the next 100,000 years. Since the black holes are so massive, their movements around each other will carry much more energy.