When Black Holes Collide

Though this phenomenon has never been observed, scientists theorize that it has happened in the past at the conclusion of mergers between galaxies. Recent research has identified a pair of black holes in a distant galaxy that appear to be less than a light-year apart, and set to collide in a million years or so. Studying them could help us to understand what will happen when our own galaxy, the Milky Way, collides with the nearby Andromeda galaxy in a few billion years.

What happens when galaxies collide?

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Key Facts In This Video

  1. This simulation of a collision between black holes was the largest astrophysical calculation ever performed on a NASA supercomputer at the time. 00:07

  2. In the final moments before the black holes merge, gravitational waves are at their most intense. 00:28

  3. A merger between two black holes could generate more energy than all of the stars combined. 00:44