Hubble Catches Possible Runaway Black Hole

  • Released Thursday, April 6, 2023

There’s an invisible monster on the loose! It’s barreling through intergalactic space fast enough to travel from Earth to the Moon in 14 minutes. But don’t worry, luckily this beast is very, very far away!

This potential supermassive black hole, weighing as much as 20 million Suns, has left behind a never-before-seen 200,000 light-year-long trail of newborn stars.

The streamer is twice the diameter of our Milky Way galaxy. It’s likely the result of a rare, bizarre game of galactic billiards among three massive black holes.

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Video Credit:
Black Hole Animation
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Jeremy Schnittman

Image of Chandra X-Ray Observatory
NASA/CXC and J. Vaughan

3 Black Hole Orbits and Slingshots
Image from paper “A candidate runaway supermassive black hole identified by shocks and star formation in its wake” by PI Pieter Von Dokkum et al.

Schematic illustration of the runaway SMBH scenario as an explanation of the key observed features. Panels 1–5 show a “classical” slingshot scenario (e.g., Saslaw et al. 1974). The background of panel 6 is a frame from an Illustris TNG simulation (Pillepich et al. 2018)

Music Credit:
“Unclaimed Space” by Peter Nickalls [PRS] via Atmosphere Music Ltd. [PRS] and Universal Production Music.

Vertical Version

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Please give credit for this item to:
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. However, please credit individual items as indicated above.

Release date

This page was originally published on Thursday, April 6, 2023.
This page was last updated on Wednesday, May 3, 2023 at 11:43 AM EDT.


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