Galaxy, with supermassive black hole pairing at its heart, photographed
The universe is vast and full of miracles or horrors depending on who you ask. Now, astronomers have photographed a galaxy with a pair of black holes at its heart. The duo is the nearest supermassive black hole pairing to Earth ever found. The galaxy known as NGC 7727, was created by a billion-year-long collision between two other galaxies. A long drawn-out process indeed.
Why does this story matter?
Everything in the cosmic scale involves millions and billions of years and the formation of NGC 7727 is no exception. A long long time ago, there existed two galaxies, but now there is one with a distinct shape of its own. Technology has grown by leaps and bounds and today we are able to view this awe-inspiring phenomenon; from a safe distance of course.
A detailed look at the NGC 7727
NGC 7727 is 89 million light-years away and is located in the Aquarius constellation. It was formed when two smaller spiral galaxies collided around one billion years ago. At its heart are two supermassive black holes which are 1,600 light-years apart and will merge in roughly 250 million years. Post-collision, a black hole larger than either of its predecessors will be formed.
The FORS2 instrument was used to capture the image
The new picture of NGC 7727 was captured using the Focal Reducer and Low Dispersion Spectrograph 2. It is a part of the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope. The image has highlighted the violent nature of the galaxy's formation and the resulting supermassive black holes. The bigger one has 154 million times the Sun's mass, while the smaller is 6.3 million solar masses.
The fate of the Milky Way can now be imagined
The manner of formation of the NGC 7727 will aid researchers in ascertaining the fate of our Milky Way galaxy. Billions of years from now, it will collide with its neighbor Andromeda, and a new galaxy might be formed.