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Scientists Pinpoint Possible Merging Supermassive Black Holes

posted: 04/21/15
by: Discovery.com Staff
Two black holes about to merge.
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Two black holes about to merge.
Discovery Communications, Inc.

Astronomers at the University of Maryland have found evidence of a black hole binary, a theorized phenomena that occurs when two supermassive black holes that are so close that they are bound gravitationally.

As a black holes absorb matter, they emit electromagnetic energy that causes quasars, which astronomers describe as "some of the most luminous beacons in the sky". Researchers predict that two merging black holes would trade off absorbing adjacent matter, and their corresponding quasars would alternately brighten and dim.

In the new paper published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters, astronomers detail the discovery one such "pulsing quasar". The team plans to track the development of the quasar and its associated black holes with the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, a powerful telescope currently in development.

"These telescopes allow us to watch a movie of how these systems evolve," said UMD astronomy graduate student Tingting Liu. "What's really cool is that we may be able to watch the orbital separation of these supermassive black holes get smaller and smaller until they merge."

Click here to read the full press release from University of Maryland

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