A new study conducted by researchers at the University College London (UCL) and the University of Potsdam has revealed that two massive stars in a neighboring dwarf galaxy called the Small Magellanic Cloud are on course to become black holes that will eventually merge with each other. The stars, which are in partial contact, are swapping material with each other and are the most massive touching stars yet observed. The researchers used a range of ground- and space-based telescopes to analyze the starlight obtained from these stars. The team found that the star that is currently being fed on will become a black hole and will feed on its companion star, which will also become a black hole shortly after. These black holes will form in only a couple of million years, but will then orbit each other for billions of years before colliding with such force that they will generate gravitational waves. The researchers believe that this collision could theoretically be detected with instruments on Earth.
According to a recent study by researchers from UCL and the University of Potsdam, two massive stars in a neighboring dwarf galaxy, the Small Magellanic Cloud, are in partial contact and swapping material with each other. They are the most massive touching stars yet observed and are on course to become black holes that will eventually crash together, generating gravitational waves.
The smaller star, which is 32 times the mass of the Sun, will become a black hole first in as little as 700,000 years, either through a supernova explosion or collapsing into a black hole with no outward explosion. It will then start accreting mass from its larger companion, taking revenge on its companion. The companion star will collapse into a black hole as well after only 200,000 years, and the two black holes will continue to orbit each other, going round and round every few days for billions of years.
Eventually, the two black holes will lose their orbital energy through the emission of gravitational waves and will orbit each other every few seconds, finally merging together in 18 billion years with a huge release of energy through gravitational waves. The study offers an excellent opportunity to learn more about how black hole binaries form and about the conditions that mimic those in the universe’s distant past.
Source: University College London