Very Large Array Discovers A Bright New Object Near A Supermassive Black Hole In The Center Of Cygnus A Galaxy

First Posted: May 24, 2017 05:20 AM EDT

The Very Large Array (VLA) captures a bright new object closer to a supermassive black hole in the core of Cygnus A galaxy. The scientists theorized that it could either be a supernova explosion or an outburst from a second supermassive black hole.

The findings of the discovery were printed in the Astrophysical Journal. The study was led by Rick Perley from the National Radio Astronomy (NRAO) and his son, Daniel Perley, of the Astrophysics Research Institute of Liverpool John Moores University in the U.K. It was also authored by NRAO researchers Chris Carilli and Vivek Dhawan, according to Astronomy.

Rick Perley said that they found a prominent new feature near the galaxy's nucleus that did not appear in any past published images. He further said that this new object is bright enough that they would have seen it in the earlier images if nothing had changed. This means it must have turned on between 1996 and now.

So, what is this bright new object in this famous galaxy? Dhawan said that they consider it to be a supernova because of its extraordinary brightness. It could also be an outburst from a second supermassive black hole near the center of the galaxy Cygnus A.

Carilli said that they think they have discovered a second supermassive black hole in the galaxy. This indicates that it has merged with another galaxy in the astronomically recent past. He further said that these two could be one of the closest pairs of the supermassive black holes ever discovered that could merge someday.

The study also indicated that the second black hole has appeared to the VLA in recent years because it has encountered a new source of material to slurp. This material could be gas disrupted by the merger of the galaxies or a star that passed near the secondary black hole to be devoured by its strong gravity.

Daniel Perley said that this finding needs further observations to resolve some questions. This could also lead to understanding the history of Cygnus A galaxy, according to 

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