NGC 6240

NGC 6240 is a nearby ultraluminous infrared galaxy (ULIRG) in the constellation Ophiuchus. The galaxy is the remnant of a merger between two smaller galaxies. The collision between the two progenitors has resulted in a single larger galaxy with two distinct nuclei and a highly disturbed structure, including faint extensions and loops.[3]

NGC 6240
Hubble revisits tangled NGC 6240
At the centre of NGC 6240 there are two supermassive black holes spiraling closer and closer to one another.[1]
Observation data (J2000 epoch)
Right ascension 16h 52m 58.9s[2]
Declination+02° 24′ 03″[2]
Redshift7339 ± 9 km/s[2]
Distance400 Mly
Apparent magnitude (V)12.8[2]
TypeI0 pec[2]
Apparent size (V)2′.1 × 1′.1[2]
Notable featuresmerger remnant
Other designations
IC 4625,[2] UGC 10592,[2] PGC 59186,[2] VV 617[2]

Double nuclei

Star formation versus supermassive black holes

The power sources of ULIRGs in general has been greatly debated. Infrared light from galaxies generally originates from dust in the interstellar medium. ULIRGs are abnormally bright in the infrared. The infrared dust emission in ULIRGs is over one trillion times more luminous than the Sun (i.e. it has an infrared luminosity of 1012 L). Astronomers have speculated that either intense star formation regions or active galactic nuclei (which contain supermassive black holes) may be responsible for the intense dust heating that produces this emission, although the general consensus is that both may be present in most ULIRGs. Studying the exact nature of ULIRGs has been difficult, however, because the dust in the centers of these galaxies obscures both visible and near-infrared starlight and because theoretical models of both starbursts and active galactic nuclei have demonstrated that they may look similar. Because NGC 6240 is a nearby example of such a ULIRG, astronomers have studied it intensively to understand its power source.

X-Ray Observations

Ngc6240 chandra
X-ray image of NGC 6240 taken with the Chandra X-Ray Observatory, superimposed on an optical image of the galaxy. The X-ray emission from the two active galactic nuclei can be seen as bright blue point sources. Credit: NASA.

Observations performed by Stefanie Komossa and collaborators with the Chandra X-Ray Observatory have detected strong hard X-ray emission from both of the nuclei. The intensity of this emission and the presence of emission from lowly ionized or neutral iron indicate that both of the nuclei are active galactic nuclei.[4] Presumably, these are the black holes that were originally at the centers of the two merging galaxies. Over the course of millions of years, the two black holes are expected to come closer together and form a binary supermassive black hole.

Final Stages

A galaxy merger is a slow process lasting more than a billion years as two galaxies, under the inexorable pull of gravity, dance toward each other before finally joining together. After research done over the past few years, scientists have concluded that this galaxy has reached its last stages before colliding into on another. Photographic evidence proves that the two nuclei have been growing closer, and in that process, they have been emitting more gasses and stellar winds outward.Those winds evict about 100 solar masses in gases from the galaxy every year. These type of winds and growth of the black holes are known to occur during the last 10 to 20 million years of the merger; it is assumed that this is the amount of time left for this galaxy. [5]


Hubble and Keck observatories uncover black holes coalescing

Hubble and Keck observatories uncover black holes coalescing.[6]

Galaxies Gone Wild!

Arp 148, VV 340, Arp 256, NGC 6670, NGC 6240, ESO 593-8, NGC 454, UGC 8335, NGC 6786, NGC 17, ESO 77-14, NGC 6050

See also


  1. ^ "Hubble revisits tangled NGC 6240". Retrieved 12 June 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "NASA/IPAC Extragalactic Database". Results for NGC 6240. Retrieved 2006-08-16.
  3. ^ J. W. Fried; H. Schulz (1983). "NGC 6240 - A unique interacting galaxy". Astronomy and Astrophysics. 118: 166–170. Bibcode:1983A&A...118..166F.
  4. ^ S. Komossa; V. Burwitz; G. Hasinger; P.Predehl; et al. (2003). "Discovery of a Binary Active Galactic Nucleus in the Ultraluminous Infrared Galaxy NGC 6240 Using Chandra". Astrophysical Journal. 582 (1): L15–L19. arXiv:astro-ph/0212099. Bibcode:2003ApJ...582L..15K. doi:10.1086/346145.
  5. ^ Hille, Karl (2018-11-07). "Astronomers Unveil Growing Black Holes in Colliding Galaxies". NASA. Retrieved 2018-11-26.
  6. ^ "Hubble and Keck observatories uncover black holes coalescing". Retrieved 8 November 2018.

External links

Arp 302

Arp 302 (also known as Exclamation Point Galaxy) is a galaxy in the constellation Boötes. Arp 302, also known as VV 340 or UGC 9618 consists of a pair of very gas-rich spiral galaxies in their early stages of interaction. An enormous amount of infrared light is radiated by the gas from massive stars that are forming at a rate similar to the most vigorous giant star-forming regions in our own Milky Way. Arp 302 is 450 million light-years away from Earth, and is the 302nd galaxy in Arp's Atlas of Peculiar Galaxies.

Binary black hole

A binary black hole (BBH) is a system consisting of two black holes in close orbit around each other. Like black holes themselves, binary black holes are often divided into stellar binary black holes, formed either as remnants of high-mass binary star systems or by dynamic processes and mutual capture, and binary supermassive black holes believed to be a result of galactic mergers.

For many years, proving the existence of BBHs was made difficult because of the nature of black holes themselves, and the limited means of detection available. However, in the event that a pair of black holes were to merge, an immense amount of energy should be given off as gravitational waves, with distinctive waveforms that can be calculated using general relativity. Therefore, during the late 20th and early 21st century, BBHs became of great interest scientifically as a potential source of such waves, and a means by which gravitational waves could be proven to exist. BBH mergers would be one of the strongest known sources of gravitational waves in the Universe, and thus offer a good chance of directly detecting such waves. As the orbiting black holes give off these waves, the orbit decays, and the orbital period decreases. This stage is called binary black hole inspiral. The black holes will merge once they are close enough. Once merged, the single hole settles down to a stable form, via a stage called ringdown, where any distortion in the shape is dissipated as more gravitational waves. In the final fraction of a second the black holes can reach extremely high velocity, and the gravitational wave amplitude reaches its peak.

The existence of stellar-mass binary black holes (and gravitational waves themselves) were finally confirmed when LIGO detected GW150914 (detected September 2015, announced February 2016), a distinctive gravitational wave signature of two merging stellar-mass black holes of around 30 solar masses each, occurring about 1.3 billion light years away. In its final moments of spiraling inward and merging, GW150914 released around 3 solar masses as gravitational energy, peaking at a rate of 3.6×1049 watts — more than the combined power of all light radiated by all the stars in the observable universe put together - during its last brief moments. Supermassive binary black hole candidates have been found but as yet, not categorically proven.

Interstellar formaldehyde

Interstellar formaldehyde (a topic relevant to astrochemistry) was first discovered in 1969 by L. Snyder et al. using the National Radio Astronomy Observatory. Formaldehyde (H2CO) was detected by means of the 111 - 110 ground state rotational transition at 4830 MHz. On 11 August 2014, astronomers released studies, using the Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array (ALMA) for the first time, that detailed the distribution of HCN, HNC, H2CO, and dust inside the comae of comets C/2012 F6 (Lemmon) and C/2012 S1 (ISON).

List of galaxies

The following is a list of notable galaxies.

There are about 51 galaxies in the Local Group (see list of nearest galaxies for a complete list), on the order of 100,000 in our Local Supercluster and an estimated number of about one to two trillion in all of the observable universe.

The discovery of the nature of galaxies as distinct from other nebulae (interstellar clouds) was made in the 1920s. The first attempts at systematic catalogues of galaxies were made in the 1960s, with the Catalogue of Galaxies and Clusters of Galaxies listing 29,418 galaxies and galaxy clusters, and with the Morphological Catalogue of Galaxies, a putatively complete list of galaxies with photographic magnitude above 15, listing 30,642. In the 1980s, the Lyons Groups of Galaxies listed 485 galaxy groups with 3,933 member galaxies. Galaxy Zoo is a project aiming at a more comprehensive list: launched in July 2007, it has classified over one million galaxy images from The Sloan Digital Sky Survey, The Hubble Space Telescope and the Cosmic Assembly Near-Infrared Deep Extragalactic Legacy Survey.There is no universal naming convention for galaxies, as they are mostly catalogued before it is established whether the object is or isn't a galaxy. Mostly they are identified by their celestial coordinates together with the name of the observing project (HUDF, SDSS, 3C, CFHQS, NGC/IC, etc.)

Luminous infrared galaxy

Luminous infrared galaxies or LIRGs are galaxies with luminosities, the measurement of brightness, above 1011 L☉. They are also referred to as submillimeter galaxies (SMGs) through their normal method of detection. LIRGs are more abundant than starburst galaxies, Seyfert galaxies and quasi-stellar objects at comparable luminosity. Infrared galaxies emit more energy in the infrared than at all other wavelengths combined. A LIRG's luminosity is 100 billion times that of our sun.

Galaxies with luminosities above 1012 L☉ are ultraluminous infrared galaxies (ULIRGs). Galaxies exceeding 1013 L☉ are characterised as hyper-luminous infrared galaxies (HyLIRGs). Those exceeding 1014 L☉ are extremely luminous infrared galaxies (ELIRGs). Many of the LIRGs and ULIRGs are showing interactions and disruptions. Many of these types of galaxies spawn about 100 new stars a year as compared to ours which spawn one a year; this creates the high level of luminosity.

NGC 3256

NGC 3256 is a peculiar galaxy formed from the collision of two separate galaxies in the constellation of Vela. NGC 3256 is located about 100 million light years away and belongs to the Hydra-Centaurus supercluster complex. NGC 3256 provides a nearby template for studying the properties of young star clusters in tidal tails. The system hides a double nucleus and a tangle of dust lanes in the central region. The telltale signs of the collision are two extended luminous tails swirling out from the galaxy. The tails are studded with a particularly high density of star clusters. NGC 3256 is the most luminous galaxy in the infrared spectrum located within z 0.01 from Earth.


Ophiuchus () is a large constellation straddling the celestial equator. Its name is from the Greek Ὀφιοῦχος Ophioukhos; "serpent-bearer", and it is commonly represented as a man grasping a snake (Unicode U+26CE ⛎). The serpent is represented by the constellation Serpens. Ophiuchus was one of the 48 constellations listed by the 2nd-century astronomer Ptolemy, and it remains one of the 88 modern constellations. It was formerly referred to as Serpentarius and Anguitenens.

Seyfert galaxy

Seyfert galaxies are one of the two largest groups of active galaxies, along with quasars. They have quasar-like nuclei (very luminous, distant and bright sources of electromagnetic radiation) with very high surface brightnesses whose spectra reveal strong, high-ionisation emission lines, but unlike quasars, their host galaxies are clearly detectable.Seyfert galaxies account for about 10% of all galaxies and are some of the most intensely studied objects in astronomy, as they are thought to be powered by the same phenomena that occur in quasars, although they are closer and less luminous than quasars. These galaxies have supermassive black holes at their centers which are surrounded by accretion discs of in-falling material. The accretion discs are believed to be the source of the observed ultraviolet radiation. Ultraviolet emission and absorption lines provide the best diagnostics for the composition of the surrounding material.Seen in visible light, most Seyfert galaxies look like normal spiral galaxies, but when studied under other wavelengths, it becomes clear that the luminosity of their cores is of comparable intensity to the luminosity of whole galaxies the size of the Milky Way.Seyfert galaxies are named after Carl Seyfert, who first described this class in 1943.

Timeline of black hole physics

Timeline of black hole physics

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