© NASA / JPL-Caltech
In a galaxy billions of light-years away, two massive black holes are trapped in a cosmic dance that routinely unleashes a massive, brighter explosion of a trillion stars.
One of the black holes is a full giant, about 18 billion times larger than the sun, and it is one of the largest black holes scientists have ever discovered.
The duo are trapped in an endless dance in the OJ 287 galaxy, about 3.5 billion light-years from Earth.
And almost twice every 12 years, the smaller black hole is shattered by a huge disk of dust and gas surrounding its massive partner, unleashing the extraordinary explosion of light that is brighter than a trillion stars. This amazing eruption is so bright that scientists can discover it from Earth.
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory released a cartoon that captures the remarkable phenomenon.
A new study, published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters, revealed that experts immediately got their forecasts for the latest happenings – and NASA’s Spitzer telescope was able to capture the OJ 287 galaxy in perfect time.
Cebu Lin, a scientist working on Spitzer said, “Fortunately we will be able to capture the height of this glow with Spitzer, because no other man-made tools were able to achieve this achievement at that specific point in time.”
The next explosion is expected to happen in 2022, with two more to follow in 2033 and 2034. The stunning cosmic dance ends in a disaster, as it appears that the smaller black hole will be swallowed up by his giant partner for the next 10,000 years.