Hubble discovers an incredible event never seen before in the universe


Employing different observatories and telescopes on and off Earth astronomers have found incredible events and structures throughout the universe. While astronomers are constantly asking for time to investigate a certain region of the sky, all recorded data are collected and stored for future reanalysis. A new study found in archival Hubble images an unprecedented event.

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Credits: NASA, ESA, P. van Dokkum (Yale University)

Navigating in an archive

Hubble Space Telescope photographs are easily identified by the cross-shaped diffraction patterns in the stars (like the one below left). Often other artifacts appear in the images, either caused by problems in the electronics or by other objects crossing in the direction of observation.

Something similar was believed to have appeared in a picture taken by Hubble. An unusual structure 200 000 light-years long was identified and ruled out as an artifact from one of the chambers. It was not until spectrometry measurements by the Keck observatory that evidence of a real structure was found.. These indicated the existence and formation of stars. Further analysis showed that the colors coincide with a simple time-dependent evolution. That is, an object must be promoting star formation at a constant rate.

Diagram showing the ejection process of a black hole. First two galaxies merge, creating a binary system. A third galaxy collides with the previous one and generates disturbances in the binary system. The less massive one will decouple from the system and receive a large momentum, while by conservation of linear momentum the remaining pair will receive a smaller momentum in the opposite direction.

A black hole on the run

Current proposals propose that when the universe was about half its present age, two galaxies would have collided. This would join the central black holes of each into a binary system. While these were going through the process of merging into one, the couple was affected by the arrival of another AN. Working with three different bodies generates less stability that would lead one of them to finally shoot out at high speed.

While one of them shot out in one direction, the remaining pair was ejected in the opposite direction. Explaining why there is no sign of an active black hole at the center of the galaxy.. In addition to a similar but much fainter linear structure created by the binary system. A follow-up follow-up with James Webb and Chandra data is still expected to confirm Hubble's findings.

This discovery has no major precedents outside of a few theoretical proposals. Although at first glance it may appear similar to jets from active black holes, the detections are not really comparable to any other phenomenon known to date. The most plausible explanation shows a compression of the gas in the interstellar medium caused by the passage of the black hole, thus leaving a trail of young blue stars as it promotes the collapse of dust.

Francisco Andrés Forero Daza