Two super-massive black holes, one of which revolves around the other, have been discovered by scientists from the University of New Mexico, by using a radio-interferometer, known as a Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA). Until now, such a phenomenon was only the stuff of dreams, and had never before been thought a reality.
The researchers suggest that each of these discovered black holes was, in the past, the very center of one of two galaxies that later merged. To date, both of them are located in the center of the galaxy at 0402 + 379.
The black holes, the total mass of each being some 15 billion times the mass of the Sun, are at a distance of ‘only’ 24 light-years from each other – a relatively short distance apart, given the magnitude of the system in which they lay – and, according to the calculations of scientists, one black hole completes an entire revolution around the other in approximately 30 thousand years.
Researchers believe that in the future, black holes will indeed merge, which will lead to the appearance of gravitational waves – oscillations of the space-time fabric, the existence of which was predicted about a hundred years ago by Albert Einstein, but only relatively recently believed plausible. However, as the scientists say, the merging of black holes, in all probability, will not happen before more than a million years have elapsed.
The study was published in the scientific publication, The Astrophysical Journal, and experts expect that, in a future time, they will discover yet further examples of twinned-black holes, because, theoretically, such systems may not actually be altogether rare and, moreover, some may transpire to be more accessible for further study than is currently thought to be the case.
The VLBA is a radio-interferometer belonging to the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), USA, which consists of ten remotely-controlled radio telescopes that can be used to observe and map various compact radio sources with a brightness temperature of above one million kelvins.