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NASA Finds Three Supermassive Black Holes On Collision Course

Black holes have always been a point of curiosity for scientists because of incredibly strong gravitational pull which can swallow almost everything on their way. It is wild enough to even imagine the collision of two such black holes, but space researchers have discovered that three enormously powerful back holes are on the collision course. This extremely rare incident is occurring in a system called SDSS J0849+1114, which is a merger of three galaxies, and about 1 billion light years away, said the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Scientists believe that these are the largest type of black holes known till date and can grow up to be millions or billions of times as massive as the Sun.

This rare incident was noticed when Ryan Pfeifle, an astrophysicist at George Mason University in Virginia, and his team was hunting for galaxy mergers. They believe that this is the strongest evidence for this kind of triple system of supermassive black holes. The trail started with the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) telescope in New Mexico when scientists working on Galaxy Zoo classified the system as a galactic merger using optical light images. Ryan Pfeifle’s team further observed the system across multiple wavelengths, using three the space agency’s telescopes: the Chandra X-ray Observatory, the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE), and the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) spacecraft.

The scientists found that SDSS J0849+1114 has three supermassive black holes and they are at a distance of about 10,000 light years to 30,000 light years away from each other. But it will eventually shrink because the black holes are apparently to merge. Though astronomers know a bit about black holes but a triple system probably works differently than traditional black hole collisions. Pfeifle, who will publish the finding in a forthcoming issue of The Astrophysical Journal, feels that further observation could shed light on potential dynamics of collision as the presence of a third black hold should make it neighbours come together much faster.

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