Astronomers have uncovered a supermassive black hole that has been propelled out of the center of a distant galaxy. The galaxy 3C186, located about 8 billion light years from Earth, is most likely the result of a merger of two galaxies. This is supported by arc-shaped tidal tails, usually produced by a gravitational tug between two colliding galaxies, identified by the scientists. The merger of the galaxies also led to a merger of the two supermassive black holes in their centers, and the resultant black hole was then kicked out of its parent galaxy by the gravitational waves created by the merger.
Detected by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, the rogue black hole is the most massive black hole ever detected to have been kicked out of its central home. They estimate that it took the equivalent energy of 100 million supernovas exploding simultaneously to jettison the black hole.
Marco Chiaberge of the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) and Johns Hopkins University, in Baltimore, Maryland said the best explanation for this propulsive energy is that the super massive Black hole was given a kick by gravitational waves unleashed by the merger of two hefty black holes at the center of the host galaxy. Combined observations from Hubble, the Chandra X-ray Observatory, and the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, it all pointed towards the same scenario. The amount of data we collected, from X-rays to ultraviolet to near-infrared light, is definitely larger than for any of the other candidate rogue black holes.” Marco Chiaberge’s paper will appear in the March 30 issue of Astronomy & Astrophysics.