Demonstrating the immense force that gravitational waves carry, astronomers detected a supermassive black hole being evicted from the core of its home galaxy. The discovery was made using NASA’s Hubble telescope and it reaffirms what the scientists have been assuming all this time.
The gravitational waves carry the energy of 100 million supernovae and the massive black hole weighs more than a billion suns. It is said to be the largest black hole to be found outside a galactic core. Astronomers believe that the gigantic black hole was kicked out of the center after two large black holes merged, unleashing powerful gravitational waves.
“When I first saw this, I thought we were seeing something very peculiar,” said team leader Marco Chiaberge of the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) and Johns Hopkins University.
Chiaberge said he was surprised to see a quasar off from the galaxy’s central hub as the black holes are located at the core of the galaxies. Quasars are the visible and energetic signatures of black holes. He mentioned that the combined data from different observatories revealed the same event. The observations were sourced from Hubble, the Chandra X-ray Observatory, and the Sloan Digital Sky Survey.
His paper on the phenomenon will be published in Astronomy & Astrophysics on March 30.
The images from Hubble in visible and near-infrared light revealed a bright quasar named 3C 186. This was happening in a galaxy 8 billion light years away and the object was found to be far from the galaxy’s core. The astronomers have known these energetic signatures to be from black holes found typically in the center.
It was found that the black hole has travelled more than 35,000 light years from the center, which is more than the distance between the sun and the center of the Milky Way. Spectroscopic observations with Hubble and the Sloan survey helped the astronomers to estimate the mass of the black hole and the speed of gas underneath.