A flash of light from deep space is believed to be a quasar, proving the presence of the Merging of two close orbiting black holes into binaries.
A recent study from the Astrophysical Journal Letters, published April 14th, has claimed that a quasar in deep space is the result of two supermassive black holes in the final stages of merging.
“We believe we have observed two supermassive black holes in closer proximity than ever before,” said Suvi Gezari, assistant professor of astronomy at the University of Maryland and a co-author of the study. “This pair of black holes may be so close together that they are emitting gravitational waves, which were predicted by Einstein’s theory of general relativity.”
This discovery will hopefully lead to deepen our limited understanding of black holes, and how often they get close enough to become gravitationally bound binary and eventually merge together.
Black holes typically absorb matter, accelerate and heat up releasing electromagnetic energy and create the bright lights in the sky we call quasars. When two black holes form a binary, they absorb matter cyclically, leading researchers to believe that the quasar would periodically brighten and dim. This discovery was made by systematically searching for such quasars. The Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System Medium Deep Survey in Haleakala, Hawaii was used to search an area of sky once every three days for four years.
In the resulting data, researchers found quasar PSO J334.2028+01.4075, a supermassive black hole about 10 billion times the mass of our Sun with a periodic optical signal that repeats every 542 days.
“The discovery of a compact binary candidate supermassive black hole system like PSO J334.2028+01.4075, which appears to be at such close orbital separation, adds to our limited knowledge of the end stages of the merger between supermassive black holes,” said UMD astronomy graduate student Tingting Liu, the paper’s first author.
THe researchers are continuing their search for new variable quasars. In 2023, their search may gain a much larger scope as the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope may be used to aid their search. The LSST could search a much larger area and pinpoint potentially thousands of such merging supermassive black holes.