End of days? Telescope images reveal what happens when galaxies collide

The two merging galaxies of galaxy NGC 6240

The two merging galaxies of galaxy NGC 6240

In the photos, the galaxies' bright yellow cores can be seen crashing into each other as they're encased by a cloud of dust and gas in what the researchers call the "final stage" of their union.

Researchers were able to obtain the images by observing the thick layers of gas and dust that can be found around the cores of the clashing galaxies.

The statement adds that the growth of the black holes comes from the last 10 to 20 million years of the merged galaxy, and expects that over the next 10 million years, the black holes will merge "to form a more massive black hole". The left image of each pair, showing the merging galaxies, was taken by the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System (Pan-STARRS).

After "just" a billion years, eventually, the black holes of two merging galaxies are colliding together in the most colorful scenery photographed by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope.

They analyzed 96 galaxies from the Keck Observatory and 385 galaxies from the Hubble archive.

"It would be like going from 20/200 vision, where you are legally blind, to 20/20 vision, helping us see galaxies in incredible detail", he said.

Research scientist Michael Koss and astronomers from the University of Maryland observed hundreds of galaxies using images from the W.M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii and NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, according to a news release. Galactic mergers could give supermassive black holes the opportunity to rip apart stars and devour matter, releasing extraordinary amounts of light.

The ejected material often forms a thick curtain around the centers of the coalescing galaxies, shielding them from view in visible light. Astronomers did not have the capability to observe this type of event until now.

To verify their results, Koss's team compared the survey galaxies with 176 other galaxies from the Hubble archive that lack actively growing black holes.

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The results of the study suggest that more than 17 per cent of these galaxies host a pair of black holes at their centre, which are locked in the late stages of spiraling ever closer together before merging into a single, ultra-massive black hole.

"There are competing ideas; one idea is that you have a bunch of gas in the galaxy that slowly feeds the supermassive black hole", Dr. Koss said. Therefore, these galaxies were already in the final stages of a merger.

The astronomers said black holes grow the most quickly during the final stages of a galaxy merger, which they witnessed in this case.

The scientists said each of the black holes were said to once occupy the centre of one of the two original, smaller galaxies.

Like a siren before a tsunami, gravitational waves reach Earth slightly earlier than light.

Gravitational waves are considered ripples in the fabric of spacetime.

Scientists first detected the shudders in space-time in 2016 and the discovery was hailed the "biggest scientific breakthrough of the century". All of those galaxies are located an average of 330 million light-years from Earth, relatively close by in cosmic terms, with many similar in size to the Milky Way.

This kind of collision is expected to happen to our own Milky Way galaxy and the nearby Andromeda galaxy in a few billion years, as shown in the video above, which was released by NASA in May. Her experience in writing also intersects the IT niche, given the fact that she worked as a content editor for firms that produce software for mobile devices. For nearby black hole pairs, JWST should also be capable of measuring the masses, growth rates and other physical parameters for each black hole. Image credit: NASA / ESA / M. Koss, Eureka Scientific, Inc / W. M. Keck Observatory / Pan-STARRS.

An even better view of mergers in dusty, heavily obscured galaxies may come from NASA's highly anticipated James Webb Space Telescope, slated for launch in 2021. These direct observations had not been made before.

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