Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Astronomers find triple interactions of supermassive black holes to be common in early universe

11.01.2007
New cosmological computer simulations produced by a team of astronomers from Northwestern University, Harvard University and the University of Michigan show for the first time that supermassive black holes (SMBHs), which exist at the centers of nearly all galaxies, often come together during triple galaxy interactions.

Frederic Rasio, a theoretical astrophysicist and professor of physics and astronomy in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern, presented the findings today (Jan. 8) at the meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Seattle.

The theoretical results are of special interest because of the recent discovery by astronomers at the California Institute of Technology of a possible triple quasar, findings that also were reported at the Seattle meeting.

"SMBHs become visible as quasars when they accrete large quantities of gas from their host galaxies, releasing prodigious amounts of energy in radiation," said Rasio. "The observation of three quasars in very close proximity shows that the kinds of interactions predicted by our computer simulations are indeed taking place, even in the nearby, present-day universe."

The existence of binary SMBHs, formed when two galaxies come together, merge and bring together their central SMBHs, has been discussed by astronomers for many years. The new work reported by Rasio shows that interactions between three SMBHs are also quite frequent, occurring perhaps up to a few times per year within the observable universe. While the merger of a binary SMBH following the collision between two galaxies simply leads to the formation of a bigger SMBH at the center of a bigger galaxy, triple black hole interactions can be much more violent and interesting.

"Three is so much better than two because the dynamics of three gravitationally interacting bodies is chaotic, as opposed to the much more regular motion of two bodies simply orbiting each other," said Rasio.

These violent triple interactions were especially frequent at early cosmological times, when our universe was only about one-tenth of its present age, and galaxies were smaller and collided much more frequently than today. At that earlier epoch, galaxies were living in a very crowded environment, as the universe had yet to expand to its present size. Smaller galaxies merged together to form some of the much bigger galaxies we see today. Although slower today, this process is ongoing. Even our own galaxy, the Milky Way, will experience a "major merger" event when it collides with its nearest neighbor, the Andromeda galaxy, in about three billion years.

Triple encounters of SMBHs often end in the complete coalescence of an SMBH pair, guaranteeing a high cosmic merger rate of black holes. They can also lead to SMBH binaries being kicked out of their parent galaxies and wandering "naked" through the universe.

"Triple black hole systems undergo complex, chaotic interactions often ending in the high-velocity ejection of one component, often straight out of the host galaxy," said Loren Hoffman, a doctoral student at Harvard and a member of the research team.

"The detection of wandering black hole binaries flying in empty space would give us a unique signature of triple interactions in the early universe," said team member Marta Volonteri, assistant professor of astronomy at the University of Michigan. "Gravitational waves emission seems to be the only way of spotting these wandering binaries."

Merging SMBH binaries are key sources of gravitational radiation that astronomers hope to detect with future observatories such as the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA), a billion-dollar joint venture of NASA and the European Space Agency, which is currently in a design phase and is expected to begin observations in or around 2017.

Megan Fellman | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.northwestern.edu

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht NASA detects solar flare pulses at Sun and Earth
17.11.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

nachricht Pluto's hydrocarbon haze keeps dwarf planet colder than expected
16.11.2017 | University of California - Santa Cruz

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

Im Focus: Wrinkles give heat a jolt in pillared graphene

Rice University researchers test 3-D carbon nanostructures' thermal transport abilities

Pillared graphene would transfer heat better if the theoretical material had a few asymmetric junctions that caused wrinkles, according to Rice University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA detects solar flare pulses at Sun and Earth

17.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

NIST scientists discover how to switch liver cancer cell growth from 2-D to 3-D structures

17.11.2017 | Health and Medicine

The importance of biodiversity in forests could increase due to climate change

17.11.2017 | Studies and Analyses

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>