Gravitational Waves Move a Black Hole

Gravitational waves have recently shown how powerful they really can be. The Hubble Telescope has uncovered a supermassive black hole that has been completely knocked out of the center of its galaxy. A phenomenal feat that is believed to be accomplished because of two other black holes colliding and sending off gravitational waves so strong, they propelled another black hole out of its current position.


Black holes cannot be discovered through direct observation. The only way to know if there is a black hole is by observing the surroundings. Quasars are concentrations of radiation so bright they outshine all else around them. Quasars are found at the center of black holes. By observing a quasar and the radiation emanating from it, scientists can make conclusions on the size of the black hole.


Quasars are located in the center of normal galaxies. Images of quasar 3C 186 located approximately 8 billion light-years away show this quasar to be out of the center of its galaxy. Instead, it is located 35,000 light-years off center.


Studying images of the surrounding area over time, the Hubble telescope send information on two massive black holes of differing masses colliding. Because the masses of the holes were different, when they collided, they sent jets of gravitational waves from one side of the collision. It was these rare, unique waves that propelled 3C 186 out of its original position in its galaxy.


As more data comes in, scientists are discovering the massive power gravitational waves have of shaping the landscape of space and how objects in space interact.



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