galaxy surrounded by wispy arms

Supermassive black hole pair nearest Earth is locked in a violent cosmic dance

Astronomers have photographed a violent cosmic dance that began between two galaxies a billion years ago, pulling them into a collision that gave birth to a new chaotic galaxy.

At the heart of that giant collision-born galaxy are two supermassive black holes — each once at the core of respective progenitor galaxies. The duo are the closest supermassive black hole pairing to Earth ever discovered. Eventually, in around 250 million years, these titanic cosmic monsters will also collide and merge like their parent galaxies, creating an even more massive supermassive black hole, according to a statement from the European Southern Observatory, which operates the telescope used in the research.

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