For all the advances in astronomy in mankind's history, scientists are still very much in the dark when it comes to black hole mergers, and nobody really knows what happens when they meet.
Dr Chiara Mingarelli, of the Flatiron Institute's Centre for Computational Astrophysics said: "Supermassive black hole binaries produce the loudest gravitational waves in the universe". When the black holes finally meet, nobody knows what will happen, and astronomers can only guess what the result might be. In recent days, the black holes are already emitting theses gravitational waves, but even at light speed the waves won't reach us for billion years.
Utilizing images obtained from the Hubble Space Telescope, a USA collaboration of astronomers have detected two supermassive black holes on a collision course, 2.5 billion light-years from Earth.
Supermassive black holes are not directly visible through an optical telescope, but these are surrounded by clumps of bright stars and warm gas. The get-together produces intense gravitational waves that ripple through the fabric of space and time. But bigger black holes also merge faster, reducing the window during which gravitational waves may be detected.
If the black hole merger isn't detected, it could be because black holes stall at around 1 parsec (roughly 3.2 light-years) apart. Their discovery can help scientists estimate how many nearby supermassive black holes are emitting gravitational waves that we could detect right now.
This slowdown lasts almost indefinitely and is known as the final parsec problem.
Astronomers have difficulties spotting the stalled pairs because their collision becomes too hard to distinguish even when they're much farther than 1 parsec apart.
"This is the first example of a close pair of such massive black holes that we've found, but there may well be additional binary black holes remaining to be discovered", said Michael Strauss, from Princeton University's astrophysical sciences department.
If astronomers can detect that constant hum of rippling in space-time, that would suggest the existence of the gravitational wave background - and rule out the final parsec problem. A single pulsar's rhythm might be disrupted by only a few hundred nanoseconds over a decade. "The more we can learn about the population of merging black holes, the better we will understand the process of galaxy formation and the nature of the gravitational wave background". The louder the background noise, the more massive the timing disruptions, and the quicker the detection will be made.
The astronomers initially selected this galaxy to validate a theory that an accretion disk forms when ample amounts of gas are trapped by a black hole but the disk tend to break down and become fainter once less material is pulled into the disk, according to NASA. What's more, the galaxy's core is shooting out two unusually colossal plumes of gas.