Weird Discovery – Distant Supermassive Black Holes Aligned Together

Weird Discovery – Distant Supermassive Black Holes Aligned Together


A three-year survey of a region called ELAIS-N1  involving deep radio imaging of the radio waves from that region has thrown some very interesting discovery.  This study was done using the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT) in India.

Aligned Supermassive Black Holes

Aligned Supermassive Black Holes. The image on the left has white circles around the aligned galaxies; the image on the right is without the circles. Credit: Prof Russ Taylor

The study suggests that supermassive black holes in galaxies separated millions of light years are all spinning out radio jets in the same direction!  What does that mean?

The jets are produced by the supermassive black holes at the centres of these galaxies, and the only way for this alignment to exist is if supermassive black holes are all spinning in the same direction, says Prof Andrew Russ Taylor, joint UWC/UCT SKA Chair, Director of the recently-launched Inter-University Institute for Data Intensive Astronomy, and principal author of the Monthly Notices study.

So these black holes in very distant galaxies all have axes of rotation oriented in the same direction.  As if they are secretly connected to each other in a synchronized dance!

The explanation that the astronomers and scientists have at the moment is that this may have occurred because the “alignment” was baked into these galaxies 13.8 billion years ago when they all shared the small primordial space right after the Big Bang.

“Since these black holes don’t know about each other, or have any way of exchanging information or influencing each other directly over such vast scales, this spin alignment must have occurred during the formation of the galaxies in the early universe,” he notes.

This implies that there is a coherent spin in the structure of this volume of space that was formed from the primordial mass fluctuations that seeded the creation of the large-scale structure of the universe.

Honestly, the answer seems to be very simplistic.  In a Universe where the direction means nothing really as it is so huge, we have some large bodies aligned together in the same direction!

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The astronomers, however, are hoping that given their assumption of the reason for this alignment – they will be able to learn a lot more about the impact of the early hours after the Big Bang on the evolution of Universe and its components over the rest of the development!


Featured Image Source: Flickr

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