Single black hole may be masquerading as a pair

New observations cast doubt on recent discovery of binary system at galaxy’s center

3:38pm, August 6, 2014

SEEING DOUBLE  A recently discovered binary black hole might instead be a single one with jets that are much smaller than those seen erupting from this black hole in the center of galaxy Centaurus A. The image shows X-rays (blue), microwaves (orange) and visible light. 

One telescope giveth, another taketh away. Astronomers may have been seeing double when they recently announced the discovery of a pair of supermassive black holes at the heart of a galaxy collision. New observations of the same galaxy suggest that the duo may instead be one lonely black hole blasting the surrounding space with two jets of charged particles. 

At the center of the controversy are two blobs about 450 light-years apart that emit radio waves – light at the low-frequency end of the electromagnetic spectrum. Roger Deane, an astrophysicist at the University of Cape Town in South Africa, and colleagues reported that the radio waves came from two supermassive black holes locked in a gravitational embrace (SN: 7/26/14, p. 10).

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