Scientists have discovered something unusual in deep space, and they don’t seem to know how to explain it. A supermassive black hole is being pushed out from its Galaxy, though this was considered as an impossible thing to happen since these supermassive black holes are always at the center of their host galaxies.

This black hole is located billions of light-years away from Earth, and according to scientists at NASA, it is leaving its Galaxy (3C186) at a pace of 4.7 million miles per hour. Scientists say that it must have taken the energy of about 100 million supernovae exploding to achieve that. They suspect this is happening because of gravitational waves.

The Hubble Space Telescope image that revealed the runaway quasar. Image Credit: NASA, ESA, and M. Chiaberge/STScI and JHU

“We estimate that it took the equivalent energy of 100 million supernovae exploding simultaneously to jettison the black hole,” describes Stefano Bianchi, co-author of the study, from the Roma Tre University, Italy.

Are Supermassive Black holes always at the center of galaxies?

Scientists are surprised because they spotted that in Galaxy 3C186, which is 8 billions of light years away, something very unlikely to happen took place, an impossibility. The supermassive black hole left from its galaxy. It is 35000 light years away from the center now, which is more than the distance between the Sun and center of the Milky Way.

According to scientists, supermassive black holes are always in the center of the galaxies, and all the stars are around them. Now scientists want to find out what made this happen since it is the first time they spot this phenomenon.

The black hole is traveling so fast that it would arrive from the Earth to the Moon in 3 minutes. If it keeps moving at that speed, scientists predict that the black hole will leave the galaxy for good and it will roam alone in the universe forever. It is important to remember that black holes cannot be seen directly, they are determined thanks to a spectroscopic analysis of the gas that surrounds it.

According to the images captured by the Hubble, the Galaxy 3C186 is unusual. It shows a bright quasar, which is the energetic signature of an active black hole, located far from the galactic core. According to Marco Chaiberge, an ESA-AURA researcher at the Space Telescope Science Institute (USA), it is not likely to see that a quasar is not in the center.

Supermassive black holes can merge

An international team of astronomers at NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope have the theory that this supermassive black hole, which has the size of one billion solar masses, is being ejected from the galaxy due to gravitational waves. Albert Einstein first predicted These waves.

Einstein said that gravitational waves are ripples in space created by accelerating massive objects. Last year, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) helped astronomers prove that gravitational waves do exist. They said that the waves appeared from the union of two stellar-mass black holes, which are multiple times the size of the Sun.

This seems to be the most plausible explanation right now. Scientists explain that the energy that takes to eject the supermassive black hole at its center could only emanate from gravitational waves, by the merger of two massive black holes in the center of Galaxy 3C186.

According to their findings, about 1 or 2 billion years ago, there were two galaxies – each of them with a supermassive black hole in their centers- and they merged. The two black holes were spinning around each other in the core of the recently merged galaxy, and that caused gravitational waves.

The bodies naturally didn’t have the same rotation nor the same mass. Therefore, the gravitational waves they produced were unevenly emitted. Once the two black holes merged, the anisotropic emission of gravitational waves generated a kick that rejected the supermassive black hole out of the host galaxy.

“If our theory is correct, the observations provide strong evidence that supermassive black holes can actually merge,” explains Stefano Bianchi on the importance of the discovery. “There is already evidence of black hole collisions for stellar-mass black holes, but the process regulating supermassive black holes is more complex and not yet completely understood.”

An artist’s conception of how gravitational waves could propel a black hole from the center of a galaxy. Image Credit: NASA, European Space Agency, and A. Feild/STScI

Chiaberge: “I thought we were seeing something very peculiar.” 

Scientists say they are lucky of being able to capture such a phenomenon because not all black holes mergers produce such unbalanced gravitational waves that are capable of kicking the black hole out of the host galaxy.

They say that this could help them understand more about how galaxies and black holes work, and to dismiss the belief that supermassive black holes are always at the center of galaxies.

The results of the study,  published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics appeared in the PaperThe puzzling case of the radio-loud QSO 3C 186: a gravitational wave recoiling black hole in a young radio source?’.

Source: The Washington Post