Two black holes dancing around each other • Earth.com

Two black holes dancing around each other

04-17-2021


Two black holes dancing around each other Today’s Video of the Day from NASA Goddard features a visualization of two massive black holes dancing around each other as they distort and redirect light from each other’s accretion disk.

The two black holes can be seen regaining their shapes, drifting apart, and then slamming back together again due to intense gravitational forces.

“We’re seeing two supermassive black holes, a larger one with 200 million solar masses and a smaller companion weighing half as much,” said Jeremy Schnittman, an astrophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, who created the visualization.  

“These are the kinds of black hole binary systems where we think both members could maintain accretion disks lasting millions of years.” Black holes of stellar mass form when very massive stars collapse at the end of their life cycle. After a black hole has formed, it can continue to grow by absorbing mass from its surroundings

The accretion disks have different colors, red and blue, which makes it easier to track the light sources. This is also realistic because hotter gas gives off light closer to the blue end of the spectrum, and material orbiting smaller black holes experiences stronger gravitational effects that produce higher temperatures, according to NASA.

Video Credit: NASA Goddard 

By Chrissy Sexton, Earth.com Staff Writer

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