A Collision between Galaxies Produced a Giant Ring of Black Holes

A Collision between Galaxies Produced a Giant Ring of Black Holes

Scientists found a ring galaxy which is 300 million light-years away from Earth.

The galaxies whose gravitational fields create a disturbance among each other are called Interacting or Colliding galaxies. They are quite common during galaxy evolution. Some people might confuse intergalactic collisions with the conventional meaning of collision but it happens only at the gravitational level as indicated by the above definition. There are more than one outcomes of these interactions and the result is dependent on the galaxies that are about to collide.

When one of the colliding galaxies is significantly larger than the other, it hardly gets affected by the collision. On the other hand, the smaller galaxy ripped apart and it becomes a part of the larger one. In another instance, galaxies might merge into each other if they do not have enough momentum to continue traveling after the collision. In this case, both the galaxies will retain their shape and material. Recently, scientists at the Chandra X-ray Observatory of NASA detected a giant ring of black holes at a distance of 300 million light-years. They believe that a massive intergalactic collision was responsible for initiating this ring.

Astronomers figured out that a ring galaxy called AM 0644-741 was the source of these bright X-rays. In addition to the Chandra X-ray Observatory, they took help from the Hubble Space Telescope to create a composite image of X-ray and optical observations of the galaxy. The researchers concluded that a ring of either black holes or neutron stars is the source of these X-rays which came into existence following a galaxy collision. According to the study, the galaxies were pulled closer to each other due to the gravity. Consequently, the gravitational force of a galaxy created waves in the gas surrounding AM 0644-741 which led to the birth of new stars. Talking about these newly-formed stars, the researchers at the Chandra X-ray Observatory said,

The most massive of these fledgling stars will lead short lives — in cosmic terms — of millions of years. After that, their nuclear fuel is spent, and the stars explode as supernovas, leaving behind either black holes with masses typically between about five to twenty times that of the sun, or neutron stars with a mass approximately equal to that of the sun.”

The fact that the cosmic companions which provide gas to neutron stars and black holes are quite similar has played an instrumental role in developing this ambiguity. The researching team further explained that the X-rays captured from the AM 0644-741 falls into the category of Ultraluminous X-ray Sources (ULXs). Generally, the intensity of X-rays produced by these objects is hundreds to thousands of times more than normal neutron star or black hole X-ray binaries. Having said that, the identity of the ULXs found in AM 0644-741 is still unknown and researchers are working on it.

The findings of the Chandra X-ray Observatory also revealed a supermassive black hole at the center of the galaxy. In addition to that, it located a rapidly-growing black hole behind this galaxy which is approximately 9.1 billion light-years away from our planet. Chandra X-ray Observatory also found 6 more ring galaxies having a total of 63 X-ray sources in them. 50 of them have been declared as ULXs by the scientists. Altogether, these 7 galaxies have a higher number of ULXs per galaxy than other types of galaxies. According to the researching team, this information will prove extremely beneficial for astronomers as they want to understand the origin of ULXs. Have a look at this amazing celestial phenomenon for yourself.

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