3 supermassive black holes are going to collide!

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A rare trio of supermassive black holes has been caught in the act of coming together.

Three of the light-gobbling monsters nuzzle shoulder to shoulder in SDSS J084905.51+111447.2, a system of three merging galaxies about 1 billion light-years from Earth, a new study reports.

"We were only looking for pairs of black holes at the time, and yet, through our selection technique, we stumbled upon this amazing system," lead author Ryan Pfeifle, of George Mason University in Virginia, said in a statement. "This is the strongest evidence yet found for such a triple system of actively feeding supermassive black holes."


SDSS J084905.51+111447.2, or SDSS J0849+1114 for short, as another publication notes. They really got to work on naming.
 

Bartholomew Gallacher

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The fate of all black holes in the end is already set in stone: they are going to vaporize into nothingness.
 

Soen Eber

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If I remember right galactic mergers and their black holes tend to sterilize much of the area around them. X-Rays, Gamma ray bursts orbital disruption and so forth aren't very productive to sustaining life.
 
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Kara Spengler

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Neat!

This would make for an interesting computer simulation. Undoubtedly there will be some imperfection somewhere to spoil the fun though. Reality tends to do that.
 
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Chalice Yao

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The theory is, by the way, that Black Holes cannot literally collide. Something about their orbital forces preventing it.
But anything in between them? jeez, it's hard to imagine the forces at play...
 
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Why do I have a compulsion to make a joke about black holes? Never mind.
 

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So, if this trip of black holes is over a billion light years away, and we're seeing it now, doesn't that mean it actually happened over a billion years ago?
 

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So, if this triplet of black holes is over a billion light years away, and we're seeing it now, doesn't that mean it actually happened over a billion years ago?
Time is a wibbly-wobbly concept in a relativistic universe. If we were at rest relative to those galaxies, then distance = time in the past. However, at a billion light years distance, they would be moving away at a significant fraction of the speed of light, and their light red-shifted, meaning events appear to us to move more slowly. It's been way too many years since I have used that part of my physics degree, so I'd have to look up the formulae to figure out how far back in time the light we see today had left those galaxies.

To give an example of how weird it gets from numbers I remember, the edge of the observable Universe is now 46 billion light years away, while the Universe is only about 13 billion years old. Light from the Cosmic Background Radiation started heading our way that long ago. But space itself has expanded in the intervening time. Thus where that light started from is "now" three times farther away than it would be possible to travel in a static universe in that time.

The distortion isn't as bad for something a billion light years away, but it also isn't zero.
 

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To give an example of how weird it gets from numbers I remember, the edge of the observable Universe is now 46 billion light years away, while the Universe is only about 13 billion years old.
Wait.
Wouldn't that mean that the edge of the observable Universe has moved, dare I say it, faster than light during that time?
 

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Wouldn't that mean that the edge of the observable Universe has moved, dare I say it, faster than light during that time?
Yup. But that's thank to space expanding during that time.
 

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Time is a wibbly-wobbly concept in a relativistic universe. If we were at rest relative to those galaxies, then distance = time in the past. However, at a billion light years distance, they would be moving away at a significant fraction of the speed of light, and their light red-shifted, meaning events appear to us to move more slowly. It's been way too many years since I have used that part of my physics degree, so I'd have to look up the formulae to figure out how far back in time the light we see today had left those galaxies.

To give an example of how weird it gets from numbers I remember, the edge of the observable Universe is now 46 billion light years away, while the Universe is only about 13 billion years old. Light from the Cosmic Background Radiation started heading our way that long ago. But space itself has expanded in the intervening time. Thus where that light started from is "now" three times farther away than it would be possible to travel in a static universe in that time.

The distortion isn't as bad for something a billion light years away, but it also isn't zero.
Not to mention that we might be also be moving left, right, up or down in relation... or just waving 👋 as we go past on counter rotational trains. 🚂

Shouting as we go...
“Widdershins!”
“Deosil!”
“Spinwise!”
“Squidward!”
 
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Kara Spengler

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Wait.
Wouldn't that mean that the edge of the observable Universe has moved, dare I say it, faster than light during that time?
I saw a vid about this but I forget whose channel now (is it any surprise I follow a LOT of science geeks as well as ppl from the UK and sf ppl). Anyway, the universe is expanding from every point and we can only see as 'far' as the big bang. So take a point that we can see to ... it has been expanding from that as well. Matter can not move faster than light (it is WAY too early to go into the math but you would get into a division by zero situation) but it does not need to if space itself expands.
 
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