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Wednesday, June 28, 2017

In a first, astronomers discover orbiting supermassive black holes!

In what is being hailed as a “groundbreaking discovery”, astronomers have for the first time observed two supermassive black holes orbiting around each other in a distant galaxy.
In an article published in the Astrophysical Journal, researchers have detailed how they used radio telescopes to detect what appeared to be two black holes moving in relation to each other in a radio galaxy.
Potentially, it is the smallest-ever recorded movement of an object across the sky, also known as angular motion, Xinhua news agency reported.“If you imagine a snail on the recently-discovered Earth-like planet orbiting Proxima Centauri, a bit over four light years away, moving at one centimetre a second, that’s the angular motion we’re resolving here,” Roger W Romani, Professor of physics at Stanford University and co-author of the paper, said.
Researchers led by Greg Taylor, Professor of physics and astronomy at the University of New Mexico, have taken snapshots of radio galaxy 0402+379, the one containing the two black holes over the past 12 years.
Officially discovered in 1995, the galaxy was confirmed in 2006 to have a supermassive black-hole binary system with an unusual configuration.
“For a long time, we have been looking into space to try and find a pair of these supermassive black holes orbiting as a result of two galaxies merging,” Taylor said.
“Even though we have theorised that this should be happening, nobody had ever seen it, until now.”

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