Using the standard telescope, the galaxy NGC 7727 appears like gossamer tumbleweed drifting in the night sky. Inside it, there are two supermassive Black Holes. As a team of astronomers recently found, these objects are closer to Earth than any other supermassive pair. The team’s research is set to publish in Astronomy & Astrophysics.
One of the Black Holes is 6.3 million times the mass of the Sun, while the other is a whopping 154 million solar masses. The duo is located 89 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Aquarius. The team determined the objects’ masses by studying how their gravitational pulls affected stars in their vicinity.
Supermassive Black Holes lurk at the center of galaxies. Our galaxy hosts Sagittarius A*, a roughly 4 million solar mass 26,000 light-years from Earth. When two galaxies merge, the end up circling one another and eventually merging themselves.These mergers are some of the most violent astrophysical phenomena in the universe, and they generate the gravitational waves famously predicted by Einstein and first observed by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory in 2015.
The nearness of the NGC 7727 pair blew the previous record-holding pair out of the interstellar water—that pair was 470 million light-years from us. Holger Baumgardt, an astrophysicist at the University of Queensland, Australia and the study author said that the small separation and velocity of the two Black Holes indicate that they will merge into one monster Black Holes.