ESO’s Very Large Telescope captures spectacular cosmic dance
The European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope (VLT), one of the world's most advanced optical telescopes, has captured the result of a spectacular cosmic collision - the galaxy NGC 7727.
Compared with the previous picture captured by another ESO telescope, this new VLT image shows more intricate details both within the main body of the galaxy and in the faint tails around it.
NGC 7727 was born from the merger of two galaxies. In this image, we can see the tangled trails created as the two galaxies merged, stripping stars and dust from each other to create the spectacular long arms embracing the giant galaxy. Parts of these arms are dotted with stars, which appear as bright blue-purplish spots in this image.
Sharing the image, ESO wrote, "Tails of stars, gas and dust are spun around the galaxies as they eventually form a new, merged galaxy, resulting in the disordered and beautifully asymmetrical shape that we see in NGC 7727."
The two bright points at the centre of the galaxy are a pair of supermassive black holes. Located about 89 million light-years away from Earth, in the constellation of Aquarius, this is the closest pair of supermassive black holes to us, according to ESO. The black holes in NGC 7727 are observed are expected to merge within 250 million years, creating an even more massive black hole.
7/ The black holes in NGC 7727 are observed to be just 1600 light-years apart in the sky — the closest distance between two black holes we have seen to date — and are expected to merge within 250 million years to create an even more massive black hole. pic.twitter.com/ZpoxEWvbLf— ESO (@ESO) August 16, 2022
ESO's upcoming Extremely Large Telescope (ELT), set to start operating later this decade in Chile's Atacama Desert, is expected to expedite the search for similarly hidden supermassive black hole pairs