Researchers discover two black holes in our cosmic backyard

Researchers discover two black holes in our cosmic backyard

Using the powerful Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR), NASA scientists have discovered two gas-enshrouded super-massive black holes, lurking at the centers of nearby galaxies.

Researcher Ady Annuar, of Durham University in the U.K., said the two black holes remained hidden from astronomers until recently, despite their relatively close proximity to the Milky Way. He added that it’s like two monsters are hiding under your bed.

Both black holes are the central engines of what scientists call “active galactic nuclei,” a group of tremendously bright objects like quasars and blazars. Particles around such black holes get very hot and emit radiation, which makes them so bright.

But, gas and dust surrounding the central engines of these black holes made it impossible for scientist until recently to discover their existence at the centers of galaxies IC 3639 and NGC 1448.

Peter Boorman, a graduate student at University of Southampton in the U.K., said, “Just as we can't see the sun on a cloudy day, we can't directly see how bright these active galactic nuclei really are because of all of the gas and dust surrounding the central engine.”

The researchers detailed the discovery of the two black holes at the recently-held meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Grapevine, Texas.


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