NASA has warned about an “invisible monster” in the shape of a black hole marauding through space.
The supermassive black hole travels through the cosmos at such a breakneck pace that if it were in our solar system, it could traverse the 237,674-mile distance between Earth and the Moon in only 14 minutes.
Weighing up to 20 million suns, it has left a 200,000-light-year-long trail of stars in its wake, twice the width of the Milky Way. Research headed by Yale University revealed the results for the hypothetical black hole.
Although people may envision a black hole devouring stars ahead of it, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope discovered this is untrue. Instead, the black hole, located 7.5 billion light-years away from Earth, is slamming into the gas in front of it, causing star formation.
‘What we’re witnessing is the aftermath,’ said Professor van Dokkum. ‘Like a ship’s wake, we’re witnessing the wake of a black hole.’
The photos from Hubble indicate that the black hole is at one end of a tube that runs back to its original galaxy.
The outermost tip of this column has a remarkably brilliant cluster of ionized oxygen, which the researchers believe is caused by heat generated by the black hole’s motion.
The scientist discovered the black hole while searching for globular star clusters in a neighboring galaxy using NASA’s Hubble telescope.
The runaway black hole is thought to have escaped when two galaxies collided some tens of millions of years ago, bringing together the supermassive black holes at their epicenters.
As a third galaxy arrived, each with its black hole, the three collided, resulting in a “chaotic and unstable arrangement.”
One of the black holes is thought to have stolen momentum from the other two and been ejected from its home galaxy.
According to the scientists, once the runaway black hole went off in one direction, the two surviving black holes took off in the other direction.
The team now aims to analyze the black hole further using NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope and corroborate this interpretation.