Can Black Holes Swallow Other Black Holes?

Question:  Can a black hole be swallowed by a super massive black hole? And if it could, how would we be able to see it?  — Shayna

Answer:  Yes.  If such an event occurred, and we were looking in the place to be able to see it, we would likely see a burst of high-energy radiation, which we can see as intense x-ray emission from such an event.  An example of such a merger of black holes that might happen in the future has been observed in the galaxy merger system NGC3393 by the Chandra x-ray observatory.  I hope that this answers your question.

Jeff Mangum


This entry was posted in Black Holes and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Can Black Holes Swallow Other Black Holes?

  1. wyatt says:

    Wait. In the x-ray in the link it doesn’t really look like much can someone explain it to me?

    • Jeff Mangum says:

      The x-ray image shown in the linked movie within the article above is showing us where the hottest gas in the center of this merging galaxy system is located. You can see that the hot gas seems to be located in not one but two concentrations (we often use the highly technical term “blob” to describe such objects). By studying the energy output from these two blobs of xray emission we can calculate what energy source is needed to produce this emission. Apparently the scientists who did this work concluded that black holes were required as the energy sources for both concentrations.

      Jeff Mangum

  2. s davenport says:

    Is that how a super massive black hole is created at the center of this universe.

  3. Jeff Mangum says:

    The concept of a “center” to the universe is a rather confusing one. In fact, there is no real point in space that we can define as a center for the universe. You should see the comments to the question “How Do Astronomers Measure the Size of the Universe?” for a description of this issue.

    • Johnathan says:

      Perhaps the gentleman meant to ask if two colliding black holes led to the creation of the supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy.

  4. Jeff Mangum says:

    Perhaps. To create a supermassive black hole one does not need a collision between two smaller black holes, though. The mass of a black hole is determined by the amount of mass that the object that created it when it collapsed.

    Jeff Mangum

  5. Jonah Nemiroff says:

    Would the black hole that swallowed the smaller black hole gain any mass?

  6. Chris says:

    if two black holes merge what happens to the singularity of each black hole?

    • Jeff Mangum says:

      I believe that if two black holes merge the two singularities would eventually merge also. This merger will also probably happen quite fast.

      Jeff Mangum

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *