Scientists from NASA have discovered a double quasar, a rare cosmic phenomenon that is difficult to see from devices on Earth. In the future, they may merge into supermassive black holes.
NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has discovered a double quasar that is at least 10 million years old. These objects are located so close to each other that in some terrestrial telescopic images they look like a single object. However, the sharper Hubble frame shows a border between objects. Researchers believe that quasars are very close to each other because they are located in the cores of two converging galaxies.
Quasars are some of the brightest objects in the visible universe. Scientists explained that these are active galactic nuclei at the initial stage of development, in which a supermassive black hole engulfs the surrounding material, forming an accretion disk. This is the source of powerful radiation, which is tens and hundreds of times higher than the total luminosity of all stars.
“According to our estimates, there is one double quasar for every thousand quasars. So finding these double quasars is like finding a needle in a haystack, ”said University of Illinois lead researcher Yue Shen.
The authors believe that quasars located next to each other are located in the centers of merging galaxies, and over time can unite into supermassive black holes. As can be determined from the Hubble photographs, the quasars within each pair are only about 10,000 light-years apart.
NASA also added that the result of their study is most likely correct. However, there is a possibility that the device twice captured the same quasar, which split as a result of lensing.