Friday, September 14, 2012

smiling galaxy

markarian 739 is a cheeky little galaxy smirking at us from 425 million light years across the universe...

why is this galaxy smiling?    because it has two active supermassive black holes inside of it!

almost every single galaxy we've searched has a supermassive black hole living at its center.  not all of the black holes are active, though, in the sense that there is not enough stuff (gas, stars, dust, etc...) nearby to react to the strength of the black hole's gravity.

when two galaxies merge together, there is thought to be a brief time where the black holes at their centers both become active before they merge together to become one super-duper massive black hole.   but not very many systems have been observed where both black holes are producing enough energy to be "visible." 

that's why this smiling galaxy is so cool - the "eyes" are the active black holes!

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