(CNN)When galaxies collide, so do the supermassive black holes at the center of each galaxy. For the first time, astronomers have observed a triple collision of galaxies, which have sent their black holes on a collision course, according to a new study.
Photos: Wonders of the universeA collision of three galaxies has set three supermassive black holes on a crash course with each other in a system one billion light-years from Earth. Hide Caption 1 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universe 2I/Borisov is the first interstellar comet observed in our solar system and only the second observed interstellar visitor to our solar system. Hide Caption 2 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeKIC 8462852, also known as Boyajian’s Star or Tabby’s Star, is 1,000 light-years from us. It’s 50% bigger than our sun and 1,000 degrees hotter. And it doesn’t behave like any other star, dimming and brightening sporadically. Dust around the star, depicted here in an artist’s illustration, may be the most likely cause of its strange behavior.Hide Caption 3 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeThis is an artist’s impression of a massive neutron star’s pulse being delayed by the passage of a white dwarf star between the neutron star and Earth. Astronomers have detected the most massive neutron star to date due to this delay.Hide Caption 4 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeThe European Southern Observatory’s VISTA telescope captured a stunning image of the Large Magellanic Cloud, one of our nearest galactic neighbors. The near-infrared capability of the telescope showcases millions of individual stars.Hide Caption 5 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeAstronomers believe Comet C/2019 Q4 could be the second known interstellar visitor to our solar system. It was first spotted on August 30 and imaged by the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope on Hawaii’s Big Island on September 10, 2019. Hide Caption 6 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeA star known as S0-2, represented as the blue and green object in this artist’s illustration, made its closest approach to the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way in 2018. This provided a test for Einstein’s theory of general relativity.Hide Caption 7 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeThis is a radio image of the Milky Way’s galactic center. The radio bubbles discovered by MeerKAT extend vertically above and below the plane of the galaxy. Hide Caption 8 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeA kilanova was captured by the Hubble Space Telescope in 2016, seen here next to the red arrow. Kilanovae are massive explosions that create heavy elements like gold and platinum. Hide Caption 9 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeThis is an artist’s depiction of a black hole about to swallow a neutron star. Detectors signaled this possible event on August 14.Hide Caption 10 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeThis artist’s illustration shows LHS 3844b, a rocky nearby exoplanet. It’s 1.3 times the mass of Earth and orbits a cool M-dwarf star. The planet’s surface is probably dark and covered in cooled volcanic material, and there is no detectable atmosphere. Hide Caption 11 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeAn artist’s concept of the explosion of a massive star within a dense stellar environment.Hide Caption 12 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeGalaxy NGC 5866 is 44 million light-years from Earth. It appears flat because we can only see its edge in this image captured by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope.Hide Caption 13 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeThe Hubble Space Telescope took a dazzling new portrait of Jupiter, showcasing its vivid colors and swirling cloud features in the atmosphere.Hide Caption 14 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeThis is an artist’s impression of the ancient massive and distant galaxies observed with ALMA. Hide Caption 15 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeGlowing gas clouds and newborn stars make up the Seagull Nebula in one of the Milky Way galaxy’s spiral arms.Hide Caption 16 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeAn artist’s concept of what the first stars looked like soon after the Big Bang.Hide Caption 17 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeSpiral galaxy NGC 2985 lies roughly over 70 million light years from our solar system in the constellation of Ursa Major. Hide Caption 18 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeEarly in the history of the universe, the Milky Way galaxy collided with a dwarf galaxy, left, which helped form our galaxy’s ring and structure as it’s known today.Hide Caption 19 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeAn artist’s illustration of a thin disc embedded in a supermassive black hole at the center of spiral galaxy NGC 3147, 130 million light-years away.Hide Caption 20 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeHubble captured this view of a spiral galaxy named NGC 972 that appears to be blooming with new star formation. The orange glow is created as hydrogen gas reacts to the intense light streaming outwards from nearby newborn stars.Hide Caption 21 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeThis is jellyfish galaxy JO201.Hide Caption 22 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeThe Eta Carinae star system, located 7,500 light-years from Earth, experienced a great explosion in 1838 and the Hubble Space Telescope is still capturing the aftermath. This new ultraviolet image reveals the warm glowing gas clouds that resemble fireworks. Hide Caption 23 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universe’Oumuamua, the first observed interstellar visitor to our solar system, is shown in an artist’s illustration.Hide Caption 24 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeAn artist’s impression of CSIRO’s Australian SKA Pathfinder radio telescope finding a fast radio burst and determining its precise location. Hide Caption 25 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeThe Whirlpool galaxy has been captured in different light wavelengths. On the left is a visible light image. The next image combines visible and infrared light, while the two on the right show different wavelengths of infrared light.Hide Caption 26 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeElectrically charged C60 molecules, in which 60 carbon atoms are arranged in a hollow sphere that resembles a soccer ball, was found by the Hubble Space Telescope in the interstellar medium between star systems. Hide Caption 27 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeThese are magnified galaxies behind large galaxy clusters. The pink halos reveal the gas surrounding the distant galaxies and its structure. The gravitational lensing effect of the clusters multiplies the images of the galaxies.Hide Caption 28 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeThis artist’s illustration shows a blue quasar at the center of a galaxy.Hide Caption 29 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeThe NICER detector on the International Space Station recorded 22 months of nighttime X-ray data to create this map of the entire sky. Hide Caption 30 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeNASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope captured this mosaic of the star-forming Cepheus C and Cepheus B regions. Hide Caption 31 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeThis is an artist’s rendering of ancient supernovae that bombarded Earth with cosmic energy millions of years ago. Hide Caption 32 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeGalaxy NGC 4485 collided with its larger galactic neighbor NGC 4490 millions of years ago, leading to the creation of new stars seen in the right side of the image.Hide Caption 33 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeAstronomers developed a mosaic of the distant universe, called the Hubble Legacy Field, that documents 16 years of observations from the Hubble Space Telescope. The image contains 200,000 galaxies that stretch back through 13.3 billion years of time to just 500 million years after the Big Bang. Hide Caption 34 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeA ground-based telescope’s view of the Large Magellanic Cloud, a neighboring galaxy of our Milky Way. The inset was taken by the Hubble Space Telescope and shows one of the star clusters in the galaxy.Hide Caption 35 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeHide Caption 36 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeOne of the brightest planetary nebulae on the sky and first discovered in 1878, nebula NGC 7027 can be seen toward the constellation of the Swan.Hide Caption 37 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeThe asteroid 6478 Gault is seen with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, showing two narrow, comet-like tails of debris that tell us that the asteroid is slowly undergoing self-destruction. The bright streaks surrounding the asteroid are background stars. The Gault asteroid is located 214 million miles from the Sun, between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.Hide Caption 38 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeThe ghostly shell in this image is a supernova, and the glowing trail leading away from it is a pulsar.Hide Caption 39 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeHidden in one of the darkest corners of the Orion constellation, this Cosmic Bat is spreading its hazy wings through interstellar space two thousand light-years away. It is illuminated by the young stars nestled in its core — despite being shrouded by opaque clouds of dust, their bright rays still illuminate the nebula. Hide Caption 40 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeIn this illustration, several dust rings circle the sun. These rings form when planets’ gravities tug dust grains into orbit around the sun. Recently, scientists have detected a dust ring at Mercury’s orbit. Others hypothesize the source of Venus’ dust ring is a group of never-before-detected co-orbital asteroids.Hide Caption 41 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeThis is an artist’s impression of globular star clusters surrounding the Milky Way. Hide Caption 42 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeAn artist’s impression of life on a planet in orbit around a binary star system, visible as two suns in the sky. Hide Caption 43 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeAn artist’s illustration of one of the most distant solar system objects yet observed, 2018 VG18 — also known as “Farout.” The pink hue suggests the presence of ice. We don’t yet have an idea of what “FarFarOut” looks like. Hide Caption 44 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeThis is an artist’s concept of the tiny moon Hippocamp that was discovered by the Hubble Space Telescope. Only 20 miles across, it may actually be a broken-off fragment from a much larger neighboring moon, Proteus, seen as a crescent in the background. Hide Caption 45 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeIn this illustration, an asteroid (bottom left) breaks apart under the powerful gravity of LSPM J0207+3331, the oldest, coldest white dwarf known to be surrounded by a ring of dusty debris. Scientists think the system’s infrared signal is best explained by two distinct rings composed of dust supplied by crumbling asteroids.Hide Caption 46 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeAn artist’s impression of the warped and twisted Milky Way disk. This happens when the rotational forces of the massive center of the galaxy tug on the outer disk.Hide Caption 47 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeThis 1.3-kilometer (0.8-mile)-radius Kuiper Belt Object discovered by researchers on the edge of the solar system is believed to be the step between balls of dust and ice and fully formed planets.Hide Caption 48 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeA selfie taken by NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover on Vera Rubin Ridge before it moves to a new location.Hide Caption 49 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeThe Hubble Space Telescope found a dwarf galaxy hiding behind a big star cluster that’s in our cosmic neighborhood. It’s so old and pristine that researchers have dubbed it a “living fossil” from the early universe.Hide Caption 50 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeHow did massive black holes form in the early universe? The rotating gaseous disk of this dark matter halo breaks apart into three clumps that collapse under their own gravity to form supermassive stars. Those stars will quickly collapse and form massive black holes.Hide Caption 51 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeNASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope captured this image of the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy to our own Milky Way galaxy. Astrophysicists now believe it could collide with our galaxy in two billion years.Hide Caption 52 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeA mysterious bright object in the sky, dubbed “The Cow,” was captured in real time by telescopes around the world. Astronomers believe that it could be the birth of a black hole or neutron star, or a new class of object.Hide Caption 53 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeAn illustration depicts the detection of a repeating fast radio burst from a mysterious source 3 billion light-years from Earth. Hide Caption 54 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeComet 46P/Wirtanen will pass within 7 million miles of Earth on December 16. It’s ghostly green coma is the size of Jupiter, even though the comet itself is about three-quarters of a mile in diameter.Hide Caption 55 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeThis mosaic image of asteroid Bennu is composed of 12 PolyCam images collected on December 2 by the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft from a range of 15 miles.Hide Caption 56 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeThis image of a globular cluster of stars by the Hubble Space Telescope is one of the most ancient collections of stars known. The cluster, called NGC 6752, is more than 10 billion years old. Hide Caption 57 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeAn image of Apep captured with the VISIR camera on the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope. This “pinwheel” star system is most likely doomed to end in a long-duration gamma-ray burst.Hide Caption 58 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeAn artist’s impression of galaxy Abell 2597, showing the supermassive black hole expelling cold molecular gas like the pump of a giant intergalactic fountain.Hide Caption 59 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeAn image of the Wild Duck Cluster, where every star is roughly 250 million years old.Hide Caption 60 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeThese images reveal the final stage of a union between pairs of galactic nuclei in the messy cores of colliding galaxies. Hide Caption 61 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeA radio image of hydrogen gas in the Small Magellanic Cloud. Astronomers believe that the dwarf galaxy is slowly dying and will eventually be consumed by the Milky Way. Hide Caption 62 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeFurther evidence of a supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy has been found. This visualization uses data from simulations of orbital motions of gas swirling around about 30% of the speed of light on a circular orbit around the black hole.Hide Caption 63 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeDoes this look like a bat to you? This giant shadow comes from a bright star reflecting against the dusty disk surrounding it.Hide Caption 64 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeHey, Bennu! NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission, on its way to meet the primitive asteroid Bennu, is sending back images as it gets closer to its December 3 target.Hide Caption 65 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeThese three panels reveal a supernova before, during and after it happened 920 million light-years from Earth(from left to right). The supernova, dubbed iPTF14gqr, is unusual because although the star was massive, its explosion was quick and faint. Researchers believe this is due to a companion star that siphoned away its mass.Hide Caption 66 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeThis is an artist’s illustration of what a Neptune-size moon would look like orbiting the gas giant exoplanet Kepler-1625b in a star system 8,000 light-years from Earth. It could be the first exomoon ever discovered.Hide Caption 67 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeAn artist’s illustration of Planet X, which could be shaping the orbits of smaller extremely distant outer solar system objects like 2015 TG387.Hide Caption 68 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeThis is an artist’s concept of what SIMP J01365663+0933473 might look like. It has 12.7 times the mass of Jupiter but a magnetic field 200 times more powerful than Jupiter’s. This object is 20 light-years from Earth. It’s on the boundary line between being a planet or being a brown dwarf.Hide Caption 69 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeThe Andromeda galaxy cannibalized and shredded the once-large galaxy M32p, leaving behind this compact galaxy remnant known as M32. It is completely unique and contains a wealth of young stars.Hide Caption 70 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeTwelve new moons have been found around Jupiter. This graphic shows various groupings of the moons and their orbits, with the newly discovered ones shown in bold.Hide Caption 71 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeScientists and observatories around the world were able to trace a high-energy neutrino to a galaxy with a supermassive, rapidly spinning black hole at its center, known as a blazar. The galaxy sits to the left of Orion’s shoulder in his constellation and is about 4 billion light-years from Earth. Hide Caption 72 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universePlanets don’t just appear out of thin air — but they do require gas, dust and other processes not fully understood by astronomers. This is an artist’s impression of what “infant” planets look like forming around a young star.Hide Caption 73 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeThese negative images of 2015 BZ509, which is circled in yellow, show the first known interstellar object that has become a permanent part of our solar system. The exo-asteroid was likely pulled into our solar system from another star system 4.5 billion years ago. It then settled into a retrograde orbit around Jupiter.Hide Caption 74 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeA close look at the diamond matrix in a meteorite that landed in Sudan in 2008. This is considered to be the first evidence of a proto-planet that helped form the terrestrial planets in our solar system. Hide Caption 75 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universe2004 EW95 is the first carbon-rich asteroid confirmed to exist in the Kuiper Belt and a relic of the primordial solar system. This curious object probably formed in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter before being flung billions of miles to its current home in the Kuiper Belt.Hide Caption 76 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeThe NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope is celebrating its 28th anniversary in space with this stunning and colorful image of the Lagoon Nebula 4,000 light-years from Earth. While the whole nebula is 55 light-years across, this image only reveals a portion of about four light-years. Hide Caption 77 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeThis is a more star-filled view of the Lagoon Nebula, using Hubble’s infrared capabilities. The reason you can see more stars is because infrared is able to cut through the dust and gas clouds to reveal the abundance of both young stars within the nebula, as well as more distant stars in the background. Hide Caption 78 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeThe Rosette Nebula is 5,000 light-years from Earth. The distinctive nebula, which some claim looks more like a skull, has a hole in the middle that creates the illusion of its rose-like shape. Hide Caption 79 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeThis inner slope of a Martian crater has several of the seasonal dark streaks called “recurrent slope lineae,” or RSL, that a November 2017 report interprets as granular flows, rather than darkening due to flowing water. The image is from the HiRISE camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.Hide Caption 80 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeThis artist’s impression shows a supernova explosion, which contains the luminosity of 100 million suns. Supernova iPTF14hls, which has exploded multiple times, may be the most massive and longest-lasting ever observed. Hide Caption 81 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeThis illustration shows hydrocarbon compounds splitting into carbon and hydrogen inside ice giants, such as Neptune, turning into a “diamond (rain) shower.”Hide Caption 82 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeThis striking image is the stellar nursery in the Orion Nebula, where stars are born. The red filament is a stretch of ammonia molecules measuring 50 light-years long. The blue represents the gas of the Orion Nebula. This image is a composite of observation from the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope and NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explore telescope. “We still don’t understand in detail how large clouds of gas in our Galaxy collapse to form new stars,” said Rachel Friesen, one of the collaboration’s co-Principal Investigators. “But ammonia is an excellent tracer of dense, star-forming gas.” Hide Caption 83 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeThis is an illustration of the Parker Solar Probe spacecraft approaching the sun. The NASA probe will explore the sun’s atmosphere in a mission that begins in the summer of 2018.Hide Caption 84 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeSee that tiny dot between Saturn’s rings? That’s Earth, as seen by the Cassini mission on April 12, 2017. “Cassini was 870 million miles away from Earth when the image was taken,” according to NASA. “Although far too small to be visible in the image, the part of Earth facing Cassini at the time was the southern Atlantic Ocean.” Much like the famous “pale blue dot” image captured by Voyager 1 in 1990, we are but a point of light when viewed from the furthest planet in the solar system.Hide Caption 85 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeNASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, using infrared technology, reveals the density of stars in the Milky Way. According to NASA, the photo — stitched together from nine images — contains more than a half-million stars. The star cluster is the densest in the galaxy. Hide Caption 86 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeThis photo of Saturn’s large icy moon, Tethys, was taken by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, which sent back some jaw-dropping images from the ringed planet. Hide Caption 87 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeThis is what Earth and its moon look like from Mars. The image is a composite of the best Earth image and the best moon image taken on November 20, 2016, by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The orbiter’s camera takes images in three wavelength bands: infrared, red and blue-green. Mars was about 127 million miles from Earth when the images were taken.Hide Caption 88 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universePGC 1000714 was initially thought to be a common elliptical galaxy, but a closer analysis revealed the incredibly rare discovery of a Hoag-type galaxy. It has a round core encircled by two detached rings.Hide Caption 89 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeNASA’s Cassini spacecraft took these images of the planet’s mysterious hexagon-shaped jetstream in December 2016. The hexagon was discovered in images taken by the Voyager spacecraft in the early 1980s. It’s estimated to have a diameter wider than two Earths.Hide Caption 90 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeA dead star gives off a greenish glow in this Hubble Space Telescope image of the Crab Nebula, located about 6,500 light years from Earth in the constellation Taurus. NASA released the image for Halloween 2016 and played up the theme in its press release. The agency said the “ghoulish-looking object still has a pulse.” At the center of the Crab Nebula is the crushed core, or “heart” of an exploded star. The heart is spinning 30 times per second and producing a magnetic field that generates 1 trillion volts, NASA said.Hide Caption 91 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universePeering through the thick dust clouds of the galactic bulge, an international team of astronomers revealed the unusual mix of stars in the stellar cluster known as Terzan 5. The new results indicate that Terzan 5 is one of the bulge’s primordial building blocks, most likely the relic of the very early days of the Milky Way. Hide Caption 92 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeAn artist’s conception of Planet Nine, which would be the farthest planet within our solar system. The similar cluster orbits of extreme objects on the edge of our solar system suggest a massive planet is located there.Hide Caption 93 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeAn illustration of the orbits of the new and previously known extremely distant Solar System objects. The clustering of most of their orbits indicates that they are likely be influenced by something massive and very distant, the proposed Planet X.Hide Caption 94 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeSay hello to dark galaxy Dragonfly 44. Like our Milky Way, it has a halo of spherical clusters of stars around its core. Hide Caption 95 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeA classical nova occurs when a white dwarf star gains matter from its secondary star (a red dwarf) over a period of time, causing a thermonuclear reaction on the surface that eventually erupts in a single visible outburst. This creates a 10,000-fold increase in brightness, depicted here in an artist’s rendering.Hide Caption 96 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeGravitational lensing and space warping are visible in this image of near and distant galaxies captured by Hubble. Hide Caption 97 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeAt the center of our galaxy, the Milky Way, researchers discovered an X-shaped structure within a tightly packed group of stars. Hide Caption 98 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeMeet UGC 1382: What astronomers thought was a normal elliptical galaxy (left) was actually revealed to be a massive disc galaxy made up of different parts when viewed with ultraviolet and deep optical data (center and right). In a complete reversal of normal galaxy structure, the center is younger than its outer spiral disk. Hide Caption 99 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeNASA’s Hubble Space Telescope captured this image of the Crab Nebula and its “beating heart,” which is a neutron star at the right of the two bright stars in the center of this image. The neutron star pulses 30 times a second. The rainbow colors are visible due to the movement of materials in the nebula occurring during the time-lapse of the image. Hide Caption 100 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeThe Hubble Space Telescope captured an image of a hidden galaxy that is fainter than Andromeda or the Milky Way. This low surface brightness galaxy, called UGC 477, is over 110 million light-years away in the constellation of Pisces.Hide Caption 101 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeOn April 19, NASA released new images of bright craters on Ceres. This photo shows the Haulani Crater, which has evidence of landslides from its rim. Scientists believe some craters on the dwarf planet are bright because they are relatively new. Hide Caption 102 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeThis illustration shows the millions of dust grains NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has sampled near Saturn. A few dozen of them appear to have come from beyond our solar system.Hide Caption 103 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeThis image from the VLT Survey Telescope at ESO’s Paranal Observatory in Chile shows a stunning concentration of galaxies known as the Fornax Cluster, which can be found in the Southern Hemisphere. At the center of this cluster, in the middle of the three bright blobs on the left side of the image, lies a cD galaxy — a galactic cannibal that has grown in size by consuming smaller galaxies.Hide Caption 104 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeThis image shows the central region of the Tarantula Nebula in the Large Magellanic Cloud. The young and dense star cluster R136, which contains hundreds of massive stars, is visible in the lower right of the image taken by the Hubble Space Telescope.Hide Caption 105 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeIn March 2016, astronomers published a paper on powerful red flashes coming from binary system V404 Cygni in 2015. This illustration shows a black hole, similar to the one in V404 Cygni, devouring material from an orbiting star. Hide Caption 106 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeA new map of the Milky Way was released February 24, 2016, giving astronomers a full census of the star-forming regions within our own galaxy. The APEX telescope in Chile captured this survey.Hide Caption 107 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeThis image shows the elliptical galaxy NGC 4889, deeply embedded within the Coma galaxy cluster. There is a gigantic supermassive black hole at the center of the galaxy.Hide Caption 108 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeAn artist’s impression of 2MASS J2126, which takens 900,000 years to orbit its star, 1 trillion kilometers away. Hide Caption 109 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeCaltech researchers have found evidence of a giant planet tracing a bizarre, highly elongated orbit in the outer solar system. The object, nicknamed Planet Nine, has a mass about 10 times that of Earth and orbits about 20 times farther from the sun on average than does Neptune. Hide Caption 110 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeAn international team of astronomers may have discovered the biggest and brightest supernova ever. The explosion was 570 billion times brighter than the sun and 20 times brighter than all the stars in the Milky Way galaxy combined, according to a statement from The Ohio State University, which is leading the study. Scientists are straining to define the supernova’s strength. This image shows an artist’s impression of the supernova as it would appear from an exoplanet located about 10,000 light years away.Hide Caption 111 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeAstronomers noticed huge waves of gas being “burped” by the black hole at the center of NGC 5195, a small galaxy 26 million light years from Earth. The team believes the outburst is a consequence of the interaction of NGC 5195 with a nearby galaxy. Hide Caption 112 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeAn artist’s illustration shows a binary black hole found in the quasar at the center of the Markarian 231 galaxy. Astronomers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope discovered the galaxy being powered by two black holes “furiously whirling about each other,” the space agency said in a news release.Hide Caption 113 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeAn artist’s impression of what a black hole might look like. In February, researchers in China said they had spotted a super-massive black hole 12 billion times the size of the sun.Hide Caption 114 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeAre there are oceans on any of Jupiter’s moons? The Juice probe shown in this artist’s impression aims to find out. Picture courtesy of ESA/AOESHide Caption 115 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeAstronomers have discovered powerful auroras on a brown dwarf that is 20 light-years away. This is an artist’s concept of the phenomenon. Hide Caption 116 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeVenus, bottom, and Jupiter shine brightly above Matthews, North Carolina, on Monday, June 29. The apparent close encounter, called a conjunction, has been giving a dazzling display in the summer sky. Although the two planets appear to be close together, in reality they are millions of miles apart.Hide Caption 117 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeJupiter’s icy moon Europa may be the best place in the solar system to look for extraterrestrial life, according to NASA. The moon is about the size of Earth’s moon, and there is evidence it has an ocean beneath its frozen crust that may hold twice as much water as Earth. NASA’s 2016 budget includes a request for $30 million to plan a mission to investigate Europa. The image above was taken by the Galileo spacecraft on November 25, 1999. It’s a 12-frame mosaic and is considered the the best image yet of the side of Europa that faces Jupiter.Hide Caption 118 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeThis nebula, or cloud of gas and dust, is called RCW 34 or Gum 19. The brightest areas you can see are where the gas is being heated by young stars. Eventually the gas burst outward like champagne after a bottle is uncorked. Scientists call this champagne flow. This new image of the nebula was captured by the European Space Organization’s Very Large Telescope in Chile. RCW 34 is in the constellation Vela in the southern sky. The name means “sails of a ship” in Latin.Hide Caption 119 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeThe Hubble Space Telescope captured images of Jupiter’s three great moons — Io, Callisto, and Europa — passing by at once.Hide Caption 120 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeA massive galaxy cluster known as SDSS J1038+4849 looks like a smiley face in an image captured by the Hubble Telescope. The two glowing eyes are actually two distant galaxies. And what of the smile and the round face? That’s a result of what astronomers call “strong gravitational lensing.” That happens because the gravitational pull between the two galaxy clusters is so strong it distorts time and space around them.Hide Caption 121 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeUsing powerful optics, astronomers have found a planet-like body, J1407b, with rings 200 times the size of Saturn’s. This is an artist’s depiction of the rings of planet J1407b, which are eclipsing a star.Hide Caption 122 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeA patch of stars appears to be missing in this image from the La Silla Observatory in Chile. But the stars are actually still there behind a cloud of gas and dust called Lynds Dark Nebula 483. The cloud is about 700 light years from Earth in the constellation Serpens (The Serpent).Hide Caption 123 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeThis is the largest Hubble Space Telescope image ever assembled. It’s a portion of the galaxy next door, Andromeda (M31).Hide Caption 124 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeNASA has captured a stunning new image of the so-called “Pillars of Creation,” one of the space agency’s most iconic discoveries. The giant columns of cold gas, in a small region of the Eagle Nebula, were popularized by a similar image taken by the Hubble Space Telescope in 1995. Hide Caption 125 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeAstronomers using the Hubble Space pieced together this picture that shows a small section of space in the southern-hemisphere constellation Fornax. Within this deep-space image are 10,000 galaxies, going back in time as far as a few hundred million years after the Big Bang.Hide Caption 126 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universePlanetary nebula Abell 33 appears ring-like in this image, taken using the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope. The blue bubble was created when an aging star shed its outer layers and a star in the foreground happened to align with it to create a “diamond engagement ring” effect.Hide Caption 127 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeThis long-exposure image from the Hubble Telescope is the deepest-ever picture taken of a cluster of galaxies. The cluster, called Abell 2744, contains several hundred galaxies as they looked 3.5 billion years ago; the more distant galaxies appear as they did more than 12 billion years ago, not long after the Big Bang. Hide Caption 128 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeThis Hubble image looks a floating marble or a maybe a giant, disembodied eye. But it’s actually a nebula with a giant star at its center. Scientists think the star used to be 20 times more massive than our sun, but it’s dying and is destined to go supernova.Hide Caption 129 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeComposite image of B14-65666 showing the distributions of dust (red), oxygen (green), and carbon (blue), observed by ALMA and stars (white) observed by the Hubble Space Telescope.Hide Caption 130 of 131 Photos: Wonders of the universeArtist’s impression of the merging galaxies B14-65666 located 13 billion light years-away.Hide Caption 131 of 131The massive crash is located a billion light-years from Earth in the SDSS J084905.51+111447.2 system. To see it, astronomers needed to use telescopes on the ground and in space.The Sloan Digital Sky Survey Telescope in New Mexico imaged the system in optical light. Follow-up by citizen scientists involved in the Galaxy Zoo project helped tag the system as a galactic collision. More detective work ensued. NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer showed glowing infrared light coming from the collision. The Chandra X-ray Observatory showcased bright points of light at the center of each galaxy. NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array spotted gas and dust. Combined, these revealed active, feeding, supermassive black holes. The Milky Way's supermassive black hole is feastingResearch on the rare triple system was published this week in The Astrophysical Journal.Read More”We were only looking for pairs of black holes at the time, and yet, through our selection technique, we stumbled upon this amazing system,” said study author Ryan Pfeifle, a graduate research assistant at George Mason University. “This is the strongest evidence yet found for such a triple system of actively feeding supermassive black holes.”Repeating outbursts of 40,000-degree wind discovered near black holeSuch a massive collision sounds like it would appear more obvious. But three supermassive black holes gobbling material in the midst of a giant galactic merger creates a lot of gas and dust that can hide the event from our telescopes. The images and data captured in different wavelengths of light eventually provided all of the pieces necessary to reconstructing the galactic puzzle. “Through the use of these major observatories, we have identified a new way of identifying triple supermassive black holes. Each telescope gives us a different clue about what’s going on in these systems,” Pfeifle said. “We hope to extend our work to find more triples using the same technique.”Astronomers witness 'one of the most extraordinary black hole systems'Pairs of black holes have been observed before, but not a trio. A pair of black holes will merge into a larger one. Three should merge even quicker. Previously, astronomers have puzzled over the “final parsec problem,” where two black holes become close but need another factor to overcome their massive energy and actually merge. A third black hole could be that factor.Another consequence of these merging black holes are gravitational waves, or ripples in space and time. “Dual and triple black holes are exceedingly rare,” said Shobita Satyapal, study co-author at George Mason University. “But such systems are actually a natural consequence of galaxy mergers, which we think is how galaxies grow and evolve.”