Two insanely massive black holes are about to collide and destroy an entire galaxy.
Fortunately… it's not our galaxy.
The pair of supermassive black holes have been found by astronomers just one light year away from each other. They say it's now virtually inevitable the black holes will collide, and that when they do they will release energy equivalent to 100 million supernovas.
The entire galaxy they are located within -- named PG 1302-102 - could be destroyed within a million years.
(Or, of course, they already have been. The galaxy is so far away that the light from it takes far more than a million years to reach Earth. In fact, it's 3.5 billion light years away.)
S. George Djorgovski of the California Institute of Technology said in the paper, published in Nature, that the black holes were discovered as a flicker in a quasar by the Catalina Real-Time Transient Survey. It is thought they are orbiting each other at a range of 180 billion miles.
The team thinks most of the energy would be released as gravitational waves - ripples in space-time predicted by Einstein but not currently directly detected.
The team needs to do more work to prove the black holes exist and are circling each other - though even if we're still around to see the results, it won't be spectacular from Earth. This catastrophic mega-event will register as barely a flicker in the night sky.
The universe is big.Suggest a correction