Black holes have always been a fascinating subject for many specialists in physics and astronomy. They are massive energy soakers who can eat a planet alive if they get too close to it or, even if it is relatively far away, it can tear them from their orbits. But there is another fascinating question that scientists fantasize about: what would happen if two black holes colided?
It depends on the perspective: for humans, it would be the end of the world, or even worse; for a Galaxy it would be a complete catastrophe and for the Universe, it probably does not matter too much. But fear not, it is predicted that it will only happen after at least 100,000 years.
A group of astrophysicists from the Columbia University have paired up and discovered that that two supermassive black holes are closer than anticipated. They are located in the Virgo constellation. How close? Only a light week away. Some extra extension from both holes needs to occur and the show begins.
If they were to unite, the black holes would cause a burst of gravitational waves that would tear space and time apart. The black holes are very far away from Earth: approximately 3.5 billion light years away, but they provide great insight as to how galaxies and even the universe were formed. Even if these two holes collided tomorrow, it would take a considerable amount of time until we could feel anything that they cause, if the effect would have such a wide area.
According to Albert Einstein’s theory, black holes extend over time because of all the energy they engulf. Stars, planets and even galaxies are no match for one and if they find themselves within the proximity of a black hole, it is only a matter of time until they disappear for good.
Zoltán Haiman, the study’s lead author, has declared that “this is the closest we’ve come to observing two black holes on their way to a massive collision”. If the two actually manage to collide, they will prove or disprove the theory about gravitational waves, which are vibrations that are carried into space after the grand collision occurs.
Whether we will be able to witness it or not, the event is an astonishing one and, in case it occurs, it might teach us many things about the Universe, things that we might not be aware of right now.
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