Scientists were stunned to find a massive galaxy where one supermassive black hole was completely naked.
Astronomers working with the Hubble Space Telescope and the Chandra X-ray Observatory have made a stunning find. According to a report from Discovery News, researchers have been peering at a galaxy that contains two supermassive black holes. Unlike most black holes, however, one of them was caught “naked” – with no stars surrounding it.
The other black hole in the galaxy is completely surrounded by stars, which caused astronomers to scratch their heads. Researchers have been trying to come up with an explanation for the naked black hole, found in the galaxy SDSS J1126+2944.
Researchers believe that the strange phenomenon is the result of a galactic merger. Mergers happen when multiple galaxies collide and become swamped by each other’s relative gravitational forces. Stars tend to scatter when two galaxies collide before settling into position.
Supermassive black holes, which are typically found in the middle of galaxies, can also merge when two galaxies collide, creating a truly super-massive beast of a black hole.
In the case of SDSS J1126+2944, however, the two black holes within the galaxy still have yet to collide. According to investigator Julie Comerford, from the Colorado University, Boulder, “One black hole is starved of stars, and 500 times fewer stars associated with it than the other black hole. The question is why there’s such a discrepancy.”