Two distant black holes could collide soon and destroy an entire galaxy

Contributed by
Jan 9, 2015

Two black holes are heading on a dangerous collision course that could potentially destroy an entire galaxy. It’s not the quick pitch for a new sci-fi flick — it’s science fact, happening in our universe.

Luckily for us, the eventual collision will likely not occur for another million years, and when it does, it’ll be off in the remote galaxy called PG 1302-102. Sure, a million years sounds like an insanely long time to us — but cosmically speaking, it’s just a a few ticks of the clock.

The pair of black holes are spiraling together for a cosmic collision that astronomers told The New York Times will be of an “unimaginable scale.” Once they do collide, the explosion could release as much energy as 100 million supernova explosions and “wreck” the home galaxy. It’d be so violent that the results could sling nearby stars aside like small bits of debris in a storm.

One of the most intriguing results of the situation, assuming scientists have crunched the numbers correctly, is that the explosion could create real-life gravitational waves, which are ripples in space-time. It could also serve as a precursor to what scientists think we’ll experience here in the Milky Way once our galaxy eventually collides with the neighboring Andromeda galaxy in a few billion years and the black holes at the center of each galaxy start mingling.

Check out an artist’s impression of the black holes in close orbit above, and be thankful you don’t live in PG 1302-102.

(Via The New York Times)