telescope captures image of spectacular cosmic dance

ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) has captured the image of the result of a spectacular cosmic collision: the galaxy NGC 7727. This giant was born from the merger of two galaxies, an event that began about a billion years ago. At its center is couple (We say that a set E is a pair when it is formed by two different elements…) the closest supermassive black hole yet discovered, two objects destined to merge into one black hole (In astrophysics, a black hole is a massive object whose gravitational field is so intense…) more massive (The word massive can be used as:).


The galaxy NGC 7727 was born from fusion (In physics and metallurgy, fusion is the transition of a body from a solid state to a …) of two galaxies that began about a year ago billion (One billion (1,000,000,000) is the natural number after nine hundred…) of years. The cosmic dance of the two galaxies gave rise to the spectacular shape of NGC 7727. At the heart of galaxy (In cosmology, a galaxy is a collection of stars, gas, dust and…)two supermassive black holes are approaching spiral shaped (In mathematics, a spiral is a curve that starts at a central point and then goes out…) and should merge within 250 million years, the blink of an eye time (Time is a concept developed by humans to understand…) astronomical. This image of NGC 7727 was taken by the FORS2 instrument (FOcal Reducer and low dispersion (Dispersion is in wave mechanics the phenomenon that affects a wave in a…) Spectrograph 2) of Very large telescope (The Very Large Telescope (VLT) is a set of 4 main telescopes and 4 auxiliaries…) (VLT) from ESO.
Credit: ESO

Like you happen to bump into someone in one Riddle (The street is a circulation space in the city that serves homes and places…) pass, galaxies can also collide with each other. But whose galactic interactions are much more violent than one shock (As soon as two entities interact in a violent way, we say there is a shock, whether it is…) in a busy street the stars individually generally do not enter collision (A collision is a direct collision between two objects. Such a collision transfers part of the…) because, in proportion to their size, the distances separating them are very great. The galaxies better dance around (Autour is the name given by the nomenclature of birds in the French language (update)…) on the other hand gravity (Gravitation is one of the four fundamental interactions of physics.) create forces of tide (The tide is the upward movement (flow or flood) then downward (ebb or flow) of water…) which significantly changes the appearance of both dance partners. “tails” of stars, gas (A gas is a set of atoms or molecules very weakly bound and…) and dust swirl around the galaxies as they eventually form a new merged galaxy, resulting in the messy, beautifully asymmetric shape we see in NGC 7727.

The consequences of this cosmic shock are strikingly clear in this image of the galaxy taken with ESO’s VLT FORS2 (FOcal Reducer and low dispersion Spectrograph 2) instrument. While the galaxy had already been photographed by someone else telescope (A telescope, (from the Greek tele meaning “far” and skopein meaning…) from ESO, this new image shows more intricate detail in both the main body of the galaxy and the faint tails that surround it.

In this image from ESO’s VLT, we see the tangled trails created when the two galaxies merged, stripping each other of stars and dust to create the dramatic long arms that surround NGC 7727. Some parts of these arms are dotted with stars appearing here as bright blue-purple spikes.

We also see in this image two bright points in the center of the galaxy, another telltale sign of it past (The past is primarily a concept linked to time: it consists of the whole…) tumultuous. The nucleus of NGC 7727 still consists of the original two galactic nuclei, each housing one supermassive black hole (In astrophysics, a supermassive black hole is a black hole with a mass of about a million…). Located about 89 million light years from the earth (Earth is the third planet in the solar system in order of distance…)in constellation (A constellation is a set of stars whose projections on the roof…) Aquarius, this pair of supermassive black holes is closest to us.

The black holes in NGC 7727 are observed only 1600 light years away sky (The sky is Earth’s atmosphere as seen from the planet’s ground.) and should merge within 250 million years, or the time of a blink on the astronomical time scale. When black holes merge, they will create an even more massive black hole.


Closer view of the nearest pair of supermassive black holes.
Credit: ESO/Voggel et al.

That research (Scientific research initially refers to all measures undertaken with a view to…) similar pairs of hidden supermassive black holes are poised to take a giant leap forward thanks to ESO’s future Extremely Large Telescope (ELT), due to begin operations later this year. decade (A decade equals ten years. The term comes from the Latin words decem “ten”…) in desert (The word desert today denotes a sterile area or one that is not particularly conducive to…) of Atacama in Chile. With the ELT, we can expect many more such discoveries at the center of galaxies.

Our galaxy, which also houses a supermassive black hole at its center, is on point (graphics) to merge with its nearest large neighbor, the Andromeda galaxy, billions of years from now. The resulting galaxy may resemble the cosmic dance we see in NGC 7727, so this image may give us a glimpse into the future.


Wide-field view of the region of sky hosting NGC 7727.
Credit: ESO/Digitized Sky Survey 2. Acknowledgment: Davide De Martin

This video takes us to NGC 7727, a galaxy 89 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Aquarius, home to the closest pair of supermassive black holes discovered to date. day (The day or day is the interval that separates the sunrise from the sunset; it is…). This pair is also the one with the smallest separation (In general, the word separation denotes an action that consists in separating something…) between two supermassive black holes – observed only 1600 light years away in the sky.

Each of the two black holes is located in the center of one of the two luminous cores of NGC 7727 visible in the last part of the video. The two black holes are on one path (The path is the line described by any point on a moving object, and…) collision course, doomed to crash into each other and merge into a single giant black hole, probably within the next 250 million years.

This close-up view of the central region of NGC 7727 and its two cores was taken with the MUSE instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) at the Paranal Observatory in Chile. Credit: ESO/L. Calcada; N. Risinger (skysurvey.org); Digitized Sky Survey 2; VST ATLAS team; Vogel et al. Music: Azul Cobalto

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