These Mysteriously Aligned Supermassive Black Holes Are Puzzling Scientists

Source: NASA
Source: NASA

A cluster of supermassive black holes in deep space are mysteriously aligned, and the new discovery could tell us a lot about how the early universe formed.

The black holes sit in a distant region of space called ELAIS-N1, and they're all spitting out bursts of radio waves in the same direction. Here you can see the radio bursts all aligned, like needles on compasses:

Astronomers made the discovery by accident while sifting through data from a three-year radio survey using the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope in India. The finding was totally unexpected because aligned supermassive black holes that span multiple galaxy clusters don't fit in with any of our theories about how the early universe formed. 

"Since these black holes don't know about each other, or have any way of exchanging information or influencing each other directly over such vast scales, this spin alignment must have occurred during the formation of the galaxies in the early universe," astronomer Andrew Russ Taylor, who worked on the research, said in a statement.

The team thinks cosmic magnetic fields or cosmic strings could be responsible for the alignment. Astronomers will compare this observation with simulations of how the large-scaled structure of the universe formed. It could give them hints about fluctuations in the primordial soup that came from the Big Bang, and why such larges patches of space appear aligned.

"We're beginning to understand how the large-scale structure of the universe came about, starting from the Big Bang and growing as a result of disturbances in the early universe, to what we have today, and that helps us explore what the universe of tomorrow will be like," Taylor said in a statement.

h/t Universe Today

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