The thought of a single supermassive black hole lurking at galaxy’s center is enough to send shivers down one’s spine (given a bit of contemplation and the right kind of personality). But two? That’s a new ballgame altogether.
To date, only a few candidates for close binary supermassive black holes have been found. All are in active galaxies where th
An artist’s conception of a supermassive black hole and accretion disk. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
ey are constantly ripping gas clouds apart, in the prelude to crushing them out of existence. In the process of destruction, the gas is heated so much that it shines at many wavelengths, including X-rays. This gives the galaxy an unusually bright centre, and leads to it being called active.On 10 June 2010, Dr Fukun Liu from Peking University in China with colleagues spotted a tidal disruption event in the galaxy SDSS J120136.02+300305.5 (J120136 for short). They were scanning the data for such events and scheduled follow-up observations just days later with XMM-Newton and NASA’s Swift satellite.