Three supermassive monster black holes ‘caught in the act’ of coming together

Three black holes are locked in a sinister death dance, scientists discover

An international team of stargazers believed they’ve found a rare ‘triple system’ of galaxies with gigantic monster black holes at their core. 

Each behemoth is likely to be emitting huge spurts of gravitational waves as they swirl around each other. The threesome forms a massive system called SDSS J0849+1114, which is believed to be made of three holes locked in orbit. 

A supermassive black hole can be found lurking at the centre of most galaxies, where it’s either dormant or active. 

The three colossi believed to be lurking in SDSS J0849+1114 are active, which means they are shining brightly as they munch up anything unlucky enough to be nearby.

 Event Horizon 'Scope??? @ehtelescopeFollow Follow @ehtelescopeMoreScientists have obtained the first image of a black hole, using Event Horizon Telescope observations of the center of the galaxy M87. The image shows a bright ring formed as light bends in the intense gravity around a black hole that is 6.5 billion times more massive than the Sun

This is the first-ever image of a supermassive black hole, which was released in April, 2019 (Photographer: Event Horizon Telescope)

It’s not known what the fate of the three beasts will face. They may slowly form into a tightly-bound triple system over the next few billion years and forever orbit each other. 

The holes may also merge into one leviathan or they may end up each being catapulted out of the system and into space. 

Scientists don’t actually know whether supermassive black holes merge to form one big beast or ‘become stuck in a near-endless waltz’ after they become tied together by gravity.

‘It’s a major embarrassment for astronomy that we don’t know if supermassive black holes merge,’ said study co-author Jenny Greene, a professor of astrophysical sciences at Princeton, earlier this year.