Astrophysicists find supermassive black holes in quasar nearest Earth

August 27, 2015 by Robert Gutro
OU astrophysicist and his Chinese collaborator used observations from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope find two supermassive black holes in Markarian 231. Credit: Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Maryland

Astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have found that Markarian 231 (Mrk 231), the nearest galaxy to Earth that hosts a quasar, is powered by two central black holes furiously whirling about each other.

The finding suggests that quasars—the brilliant cores of active galaxies—may commonly host two central supermassive black holes that fall into orbit about one another as a result of the merger between two galaxies. Like a pair of whirling skaters, the black-hole duo generates tremendous amounts of energy that makes the core of the host galaxy outshine the glow of the galaxy's population of billions of stars, which scientists then identify as quasars.

Scientists looked at Hubble archival observations of ultraviolet radiation emitted from the center of Mrk 231 to discover what they describe as "extreme and surprising properties."

If only one black hole were present in the center of the quasar, the whole accretion disk made of surrounding hot gas would glow in ultraviolet rays. Instead, the ultraviolet glow of the dusty disk abruptly drops off towards the center. This provides observational evidence that the disk has a big donut hole encircling the central black hole. The best explanation for the observational data, based on dynamical models, is that the center of the disk is carved out by the action of two black holes orbiting each other. The second, smaller black hole orbits in the inner edge of the accretion disk, and has its own mini-disk with an ultraviolet glow.

"We are extremely excited about this finding because it not only shows the existence of a close binary black hole in Mrk 231, but also paves a new way to systematically search binary black holes via the nature of their ultraviolet light emission," said Youjun Lu of the National Astronomical Observatories of China, Chinese Academy of Sciences.

"The structure of our universe, such as those giant galaxies and clusters of galaxies, grows by merging smaller systems into larger ones, and binary black holes are natural consequences of these mergers of galaxies," added co-investigator Xinyu Dai of the University of Oklahoma.

The central black hole is estimated to be 150 million times the mass of our Sun, and the companion weighs in at 4 million solar masses. The dynamic duo completes an orbit around each other every 1.2 years.

The lower-mass black hole is the remnant of a smaller galaxy that merged with Mrk 231. Evidence of a recent merger comes from the host galaxy's asymmetry, and the long tidal tails of young blue stars.

The result of the merger has been to make Mrk 231 an energetic starburst galaxy with a star-formation rate 100 times greater than that of our Milky Way galaxy. The infalling gas fuels the black hole "engine," triggering outflows and gas turbulence that incites a firestorm of star birth.

The binary black holes are predicted to spiral together and collide within a few hundred thousand years.

Mrk 231 is located 600 million light-years away.

The results were published in the August 14, 2015 edition of The Astrophysical Journal.

Explore further: Oxymoronic black hole RGG 118 provides clues to growth

More information: "A Probable Milli-parsec Supermassive Binary Black Hole in the Nearest Quasar Mrk 231," Chang-Shuo Yan et al., 2015 August 20, Astrophysical Journal, Vol. 809, No. 2 dx.doi.org/10.1088/0004-637X/809/2/117 , Arxiv: arxiv.org/abs/1508.06292

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Tuxford
1.3 / 5 (14) Aug 27, 2015
"The structure of our universe, such as those giant galaxies and clusters of galaxies, grows by merging smaller systems into larger ones, and binary black holes are natural consequences of these mergers of galaxies,"


Merger maniacs gone wild! So many assumptions made in this article I LOL.
viko_mx
1.3 / 5 (14) Aug 27, 2015
These researchers have observed super massive black holes. This is impassible. Such theoretical objects do not exist in this physical reality. Only in the mind of some professional speculators.
Mathematical apparatus of theory of General relativity operate on the space as geometric object and do not consider the cosmic vacuum which fill the space and is real physical environment with certain properties and limitations. It is a transmission medium that allows movement and controls the behavior of elementary particles and carries electromagnetic waves. In the visible universe there is no such thing like empty space. This is the main reason why GR have noting to do with reality where exist absolutes.
Steve 200mph Cruiz
4.1 / 5 (9) Aug 27, 2015
Maybe this process could explain some gamma ray bursts.
It could also maybe be a factor in the diversity of galaxies we see, I imagine it would change the bar formation in galaxies.
Whydening Gyre
3.7 / 5 (12) Aug 27, 2015
These researchers have observed super massive black holes. This is impassible. Such theoretical objects do not exist in this physical reality. Only in the mind of some professional speculators.
Mathematical apparatus of theory of General relativity operate on the space as geometric object and do not consider the cosmic vacuum which fill the space and is real physical environment with certain properties and limitations. It is a transmission medium that allows movement and controls the behavior of elementary particles and carries electromagnetic waves. In the visible universe there is no such thing like empty space. This is the main reason why GR have noting to do with reality where exist absolutes.

That's why they call it GENERAL relativity - it generally describes reality, not absolutely.
(Unlike some who have that annoying habit of calling on an absolute deity to define/account for it...)
Steve 200mph Cruiz
4.6 / 5 (15) Aug 27, 2015
Viko,
General relativity doesn't explain anything about black holes themselves, but it describes the space around them perfectly.
You're right in that sense, but you actually described exactly what the Einstein field equations do, so you should study up before you criticize. Everyone knows relativity doesn't explain what a black hole actually is, but that is why we need a quantum theory gravity, or the equivalent of.

Personally I think the singularity is an impossible object, and in some theories, black holes are objects exactly as big as their event horizon.
viko_mx
1 / 5 (12) Aug 27, 2015
In the physical reality there are absolutes which define the order in the system. The life relies strongly on the order in the system which is possible thanks to absolutes. This explains why GR have nothing to do with reality and is basically pure mathematical speculation. This theory even do not consider the vacuum of space as physical medium with certain properties and limitations. Pure politically correct speculation. Like most of fundamental science today.
Captain Stumpy
5 / 5 (8) Aug 27, 2015
Personally I think the singularity is an impossible object
@steve
you are not alone... but does there have to be a singularity in a black hole?
i think some speculations/hypothesis on "black holes" are a mite off (or wrong)...
we need to address the issues of what we find based upon our current understanding of physics... just like there seem to be two very different sets of laws (macro and Quantum), perhaps when under that kind of stress ...

.

This is impassible
@viko
what are the researchers trying to overtake?
are they overtaking?
why are they overtaking?
or are you using the biological definition?
are you sure you comprehend what you type?

... perhaps you could start using dictionaries ?
viko_mx
Aug 27, 2015
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Captain Stumpy
5 / 5 (12) Aug 27, 2015
This explains why GR have nothing to do with reality
@viko
so you don't own a GPS?
computer?
cell phone?
those things are not real?
https://en.wikipe...ications

Pure politically correct speculation. Like most of fundamental science today.
your religious bias is talking again... GR, like SR is probably one of the better known and proven theories in existence, with not only validated experimental results, but evidence out of the *ss!

no, what your comment on it is: THAT is pure speculation based upon religious fundamentalism and fanatical adherence to known fallacious dogma and documents which are making you incapable of comprehending reality as it IS
Captain Stumpy
4.9 / 5 (10) Aug 27, 2015
Vanity and pride do not contribute to positive progress. Only to delusions and rapid decline.
blatant stupidity and commentary in public pages with worldwide access only spreads the knowledge that blatant stupidity knows no bounds except the eventual Darwinian awards

with luck, you will win one

the statistical chances of that happening given your fundamentalist beliefs, religious ignorance and refusal to accept evidence or science is incredibly high

and your blatant stupidity actually DO lead to "delusions and rapid decline"

may you earn your Darwin award soon
GOOD LUCK
Lex Talonis
2.6 / 5 (5) Aug 27, 2015
"two central black holes furiously whirling about each other"

I wonder what would happen if they were to whirl about each other in gay delight, instead of furiously?

Would the sparks still fly?

Would there be a temporal shift as the quasar transforms to a queenie?

Such mega important things to be considered.
Steve 200mph Cruiz
5 / 5 (9) Aug 27, 2015
Stumpy,
I'm into the holographic principal as being the correct description of nature.
In string theory black holes are called fuzzballs, which I think is a promising description.
There are also some interesting patterns in the Planck units. Planck particles are these theoretical special black holes, and the hawking radiation they would admit would have so much energy that the photons themselves would collapse into more black holes.
It corresponds to the point that gravity becomes the absolute dominate force, and it mathematically matches up with the greatest extremes of QM. But your better off looking that stuff up yourself rather than me telling you.
There are promising patterns everywhere
AGreatWhopper
2.2 / 5 (10) Aug 27, 2015
"Nearest quasar to earth" is not near. When the light from the quasar that we're detecting today started on its way the Cambrian was still 100 million years in the future and sponges were the most complex life on earth.

It's insulting in the extreme that every damned article has to be twisted to some human-centric POV even if it's not there, which very rarely helps comprehension by the public, isn't interesting, often isn't accurate, and usually has more than just a bit of the stench of fraud about it.

Does PO hire anyone with integrity anymore? Why will no one just leave and start a new site that is like PO was before the new owners pimped it out to anyone willing to pay?
Enthusiastic Fool
4 / 5 (12) Aug 27, 2015
"Nearest quasar to earth" is not near.

If it is closer than other quasars then it is the nearest despite the fact that we wouldn't call it nearby. These are relative terms and 'nearest' compares the object to all the other quasars in distance to Earth. Distance from Earth is not some anthropocentric filter on the story but the fact that this is the only point from which we can observe anything means that distance from us is important in Astronomy. Where is your integrity or reading comprehension?

Why will no one just leave and start a new site that is like PO was before the new owners pimped it out to anyone willing to pay?

Please, you first.
Enthusiastic Fool
4.1 / 5 (9) Aug 27, 2015
If we have two massive objects in orbit perhaps we can use changes in the accretion disks to detect gravity waves when axes or eccentricities are exchanged? Come on James Webb!
AGreatWhopper
1.7 / 5 (6) Aug 27, 2015
Fool, you need to brush up on basic reading comprehension. Did I sound like I didn't understand the concept of "nearest"??? I clearly stated that it was irrelevant to the story. Fine, mention it if you're talking about resolution, but that's not why it was there.

Do I work for phys.org? Do you? Massive comprehension failure, or was it the only thing in your cut and paste insult buffer? Fucking gen X "nu-huh" ers. Missed more than a few richly deserved whuppin's.
NiteSkyGerl
1 / 5 (4) Aug 27, 2015
"The binary black holes are predicted to spiral together and collide within a few hundred thousand years."

Which would be, like, over 1/2 billion years ago. AGW has a decent point about the language being completely assegai up jacksey in many of these articles and this one is an excellent case in point.
Enthusiastic Fool
4.8 / 5 (5) Aug 27, 2015
Fool...
Fucking gen X "nu-huh" ers. Missed more than a few richly deserved whuppin's.


Nuh-uh

Also, please go make your own "Science" site but you should probably work on reading comprehension before you do.
TehDog
5 / 5 (8) Aug 27, 2015
@steve & Stumpy

"Personally I think the singularity is an impossible object"

@steve
you are not alone... but does there have to be a singularity in a black hole?

As I understand it, the singularity is a result of the math. As it's (whatever it is) behind an EH we're unlikely to be able to actually check if it exists :)
Enthusiastic Fool
5 / 5 (5) Aug 28, 2015
@Stumpy/Steve/Doge

Not to be the odd one out but I'd like to have the singularity be a physical object that violates Pauli Exclusion. I think that would be really interesting physics if we could pierce the veil. I'd also like to have observations of intermediates between neutron and quark degeneracy and if there was some further down mechanism enforcing exclusion. So much interesting Science but I'm too foolish to be capable of it.
Captain Stumpy
4.2 / 5 (5) Aug 28, 2015
I'm into the holographic principal as being the correct description of nature
@Steve 200
yeah, i kinda figured... as for me- i am still waiting for better evidence
in all honesty, i am waiting for validated evidence... which may well not come in my lifetime... but i am also OK with not knowing for sure. the one thing i can see is that there are possibilities.. like you said
There are promising patterns everywhere
and i am ALL for fundamental research...!!

here are some reasons. i thought you might like to read them & would appreciate the links to this article and Feynman pdf

https://www.simon...ngs-out/

http://www.math.u...nman.pdf
Captain Stumpy
4.5 / 5 (8) Aug 28, 2015
As I understand it, the singularity is a result of the math
@TehDog
that is how i understand it too... also note: https://en.wikipe...gularity

to me, it is also a signal that there is MORE to be learned, and i can't wait to see what it brings... but that is just me
Not to be the odd one out but I'd like to have the singularity be a physical object
@Enthusiastic
i think it would be interesting, sure!
I think that would be really interesting physics if we could pierce the veil...
absolutely!
that would be awesome indeed!
So much interesting Science but I'm too foolish to be capable of it.
one thing that i love about physics (or science in general) is that no matter how much we know, because we continue to do fundamental research and search for answers, tomorrow brings new information

IMHO, it is not important that we fully understand if we pass this passion and need to find answers onto the next generation, right?
viko_mx
1.6 / 5 (7) Aug 28, 2015
@Captain Stumpy

Do not repeat as parrot things that you do not understand. Classical myth is that GPS system rely on GR!
viko_mx
1 / 5 (4) Aug 28, 2015
@AGreatWhopper

This is the tribune of humanism and the conceited man who overestimated itself in insane degree and imagines how will understand and control our being where is not given to him such opportunities. So science today is in such a tragicomic situation. Conquered by the professional speculator who live in their own imaginary reality.
NIPSZX
4.7 / 5 (3) Aug 28, 2015
Imagine flying 600 million light years away. "Are we there yet?"
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (8) Aug 28, 2015
Personally I think the singularity is an impossible object

Gravitational singularities are just placeholders (i.e. mathematical constructs. No one considers them actual objects). It's saying "what if no other laws become dominant or symmetry breaking occurs: various factors approach in infinite limit".

If you have a series converging on zero then that does not mean that the series will reach zero. However, it may be useful to treat it as such for purpose of working with the series in further calculations.

As soon as we have a further refinement or replacement of the current set of theories that infinity may be resolved (e.g. in LQG where gravity has a minimum reach there is no need for a singularity. String theory posits a symmetry breaking at high densities that would open up new degrees of freedom).
Job001
5 / 5 (2) Aug 28, 2015
Personally I think the singularity is an impossible object

Gravitational singularities are just placeholders.

Singularity math ignores interesting thing like "Phase change"; Starting with very hot and low pressure;Plasma, gas, liquid, solid, metal1, metal2, metal3, etc.
The point is, simple linear math no longer represents reality beyond a phase change discontinuity. Additionally, we don't know what we don't know represents the "black hole" information condition we then find ourselves in.
docile
Aug 28, 2015
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Bigbangcon
1 / 5 (5) Aug 28, 2015
So quasars only 600 million light years away and not at the farthest periphery of the universe! Quelle surprise! Halton (Chip) Arp IS the Galileo of our time after all!
matt_s
4 / 5 (4) Aug 28, 2015
Viko. So how would you define a system where the escape velocity exceeded the speed of light?
Whydening Gyre
5 / 5 (4) Aug 28, 2015
Personally I think the singularity is an impossible object, and in some theories, black holes are objects exactly as big as their event horizon.

Call it an "everything"ularity, and - problem solved...:-)

And Matt poses an interesting question....:-)
docile
Aug 28, 2015
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Captain Stumpy
5 / 5 (7) Aug 28, 2015
Do not repeat as parrot things that you do not understand. Classical myth is that GPS system rely on GR
@viko
so, literacy is not high on your list of things to accomplish as a religious troll, then? that is why i supplied the LINK- try READING it
if your education is beyond grade school, you might actually learn something
At the water surface...vortex...than the surface ripples... intrinsic and extrinsic...
@Zephir
wait.. where are the water striders on this "water surface physical singularity"????

better yet, where is YOUR EVIDENCE?
you know, those pesky studies that you absolutely hate because they prove you an idiot (mostly because you can't comprehend how they debunk your agw BS religion)?

sigh- TWO religious trolls!
one godder and one aether - both proselytizing in the hopes of conning yet another scientifically illiterate person
my2cts
4.6 / 5 (9) Aug 29, 2015
"The structure of our universe, such as those giant galaxies and clusters of galaxies, grows by merging smaller systems into larger ones, and binary black holes are natural consequences of these mergers of galaxies,"


Merger maniacs gone wild! So many assumptions made in this article I LOL.

Consider the possibility that the maniac is yourself.
viko_mx
1 / 5 (3) Aug 29, 2015
"At the water surface the center of vortex is one singularity and the place of surface, where the speed of vortex gets faster than the surface ripples (so it's not observable with them anymore) is another one."

There is no objective reason to think so. Singularity is a consequence of the imperfection of our mathematical models and our ignorance about the foundations of physical reality. Such abstract phenomena have not real physical meaning. As have no physical meaning the object with zero size.
Enthusiastic Fool
5 / 5 (7) Aug 30, 2015
@viko_mx
It's funny that you don't realize the reason your God is dismissed is the same reason you dismiss Zephir's Aether.

In response to "God Did It":

"There is no objective reason to think so. God is a consequence of the imperfection of our primitive physical models and our ignorance about the foundations of physical reality. Such abstract phenomena have not real physical meaning. As have no physical meaning the absolute moral truth."
matt_s
4.6 / 5 (9) Aug 30, 2015
lollllllllllllllllllllll ren. So what would you consider the jump from Newton's theories to General Relativity? Certainly not more accurate or more reliable?

Our more accurate and more reliable theories gave you the very computer you're typing on, meanwhile, it's hard to find even a published, peer-reviewed article that deals with creationism because the "scientists" that work on that are laughably inept.

By definition your FAITH relies on wishful thinking and ignores reality. Nice.
Ultron
1 / 5 (3) Aug 30, 2015
Im sure that their theoretical model is wrong and there is only one supermassive black hole in the center of this galaxy. It will maybe take years, but you will see, that Im right.
JustAnotherGuy
3.7 / 5 (3) Aug 31, 2015
Because by definition these theories rely on wishfull thinking and ignore the important facts.

Looks like a word was misspelled there... could It be "these theologies"?
That makes more sense...
Enthusiastic Fool
4.7 / 5 (6) Aug 31, 2015
Because by definition these theories rely on wishfull thinking and ignore the important facts.

Looks like a word was misspelled there... could It be "these theologies"?
That makes more sense...


It was actually "wishfull" that was misspelled but good effort.
FredJose
1.8 / 5 (5) Aug 31, 2015
...the long tidal tails of young blue stars.

Let me see if I understand this - blue stars burn at a ferocious rate and therefore would deplete their fuel in only a few million years. So since we are still seeing them, they cannot be billions of years old which in turn means they must have come on the scene only relatively recently, i.e. they MUST have "formed" in the last few million years or less.
Now, according to the language used by the scientists, this particular system "forms" stars at a rate far higher than our galaxy does. Which implies that it's still happening. Which means we should be able to observe that star formation in real time since it's happening so often?
Except that we don't. So what now? What does "fast" mean in this context? Has ANYONE ever observed the formation of a star? Since I don't know of anyone who has, perhaps someone here can inform me of such an event?
anonymous_9001
5 / 5 (5) Aug 31, 2015
@Captain Stumpy

Do not repeat as parrot things that you do not understand. Classical myth is that GPS system rely on GR!


Moron.

http://www.astron...gps.html
JustAnotherGuy
4.2 / 5 (5) Aug 31, 2015
Because by definition these theories rely on wishfull thinking and ignore the important facts.

Looks like a word was misspelled there... could It be "these theologies"?
That makes more sense...


It was actually "wishfull" that was misspelled but good effort.

You missed my irony, but thanks for the suggestion..
OceanDeep
3 / 5 (2) Aug 31, 2015
@Captain Stumpy

Do not repeat as parrot things that you do not understand. Classical myth is that GPS system rely on GR!


Isn't it more that GPS would not work if GR were wrong?
Whydening Gyre
5 / 5 (4) Aug 31, 2015
...the long tidal tails of young blue stars.

Let me see if I understand this - blue stars burn at a ferocious rate and therefore would deplete their fuel in only a few million years. So since we are still seeing them, they cannot be billions of years old which in turn means they must have come on the scene only relatively recently, i.e. they MUST have "formed" in the last few million years or less.

Surely you jest... The light we are seeing from this quasar is 600m years old...
You're not real sharp on the definition of the speed of light are you...
mytwocts
4.3 / 5 (6) Sep 01, 2015
@Viko_parrot
Classical myth is that GPS system rely on GR!

Read this and remove the veil of the darkness from your brain:
http://www.astron...gps.html
docile
Sep 01, 2015
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Captain Stumpy
5 / 5 (3) Sep 03, 2015
The German wikipedia adresses this myth specifically, and calls the actual relativistic effect "neglectible"...
@ZEPHIR/docile
and the proprietor of the store said the parrot was "resting", "Stunned" and "pining for the fiords"
https://www.youtu...W6tQ0218

just because you can find a link on the internet doesn't mean it is a legitimate one, or in ANY WAY scientific proof... unless you specifically show a link to a reputable peer reviewed journal that gives a validated study with evidence, then you might as well link Snoopy cartoons as proof of your point...

or maybe you could start a new Reddit religion, like your other pseudoscience?

you posted Python Logic and assume people are going to simply agree?
really?

next, you are going to tell us all Einstein was a witch because he weighs as much as a Duck, making him made of wood....

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