ALMA Catches an Impressive Clash Between Two Supermassive Black Holes

The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array has managed to record impressive images of the gas spread around two supermassive black holes. The black holes are located in a galaxy that is merging.

According to the team of researchers who observed the event, the clash is taking place at a distance of 400 million light-years away from Earth in the constellation of Ophiuchus. Two galaxies are merging, and they will give birth to a bigger galaxy that has been already classified under the name of NGC 6240. This galaxy has been observed in the past with the help of other scientific instruments.

The galaxy sports an odd shape, a trait that stems from the fact that the collision between the two smaller galaxies remains ongoing as two supermassive black holes remain present. It is theorized that these black holes will merge into a single more massive black hole.

Supermassive Black Holes Clash Spotted With ALMA

Astronomers wanted to learn more about the evolution of NGC 6240, but images recorded in the past did not capture enough details. The new photos offered by ALMA are considerably better and allowed the researchers to find out more about the presence of cold gas within the galaxy and near the influence area exerted by one of the black holes.

By analyzing the structure of the molecular gas, the researchers are confident that they can uncover more information about the galaxy. The gold gas plays an essential role in the formation of new stars, but it can also fuel the supermassive black holes.

New data infers that most of the gas can be found in a region that is placed between the two black holes. Some hints suggest that the gas might be present in the form of a rotating disk, but the researchers cannot verify this theory at this point. However, a chaotic stream of gas filaments is present around the black hole. More data can be found in a paper that was published in a scientific journal.

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