Image: X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO/F.Civano et al; Optical: NASA/STScI; Optical (wide field): CFHT, NASA/STScI
Astronomers from NASA's Chandra X-Ray Observatory spotted a black hole being evicted from its home galaxy:
Black holes freely roaming the universe? Aspiring sci-fi writers, there's your cue! Link
"It's hard to believe that a supermassive black hole weighing millions of times the mass of the sun could be moved at all, let alone kicked out of a galaxy at enormous speed," said Francesca Civano of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA), who led the new study. "But these new data support the idea that gravitational waves -- ripples in the fabric of space first predicted by Albert Einstein but never detected directly -- can exert an extremely powerful force."
Although the ejection of a supermassive black hole from a galaxy by recoil because more gravitational waves are being emitted in one direction than another is likely to be rare, it nevertheless could mean that there are many giant black holes roaming undetected out in the vast spaces between galaxies.
"These black holes would be invisible to us," said co-author Laura Blecha, also of CfA, "because they have consumed all of the gas surrounding them after being thrown out of their home galaxy."