NewsBreak: NASA warns of ‘runaway’ black hole: ‘Invisible monster on the loose’

There’s a “runaway” black hole is tearing through the universe — and NASA is calling it an “invisible monster on the loose.”

“There’s an invisible monster on the loose, barreling through intergalactic space so fast that if it were in our solar system, it could travel from Earth to the moon in 14 minutes,” NASA wrote in a release .

The supermassive black hole created a never-before-seen trail of stars, leaving behind a 200,000-light-year-long “contrail” of newborn stars twice the diameter of the Milky Way.

It’s pushing into gas in front of it to create the new star formation in a narrow corridor rather than eating up the stars ahead of it.

“The black hole is streaking too fast to take time for a snack,” NASA quipped.

It’s assumed that the trail created a lot of new stars since it’s almost half as bright as its host galaxy.

The “invisible monster” is located at the end of the column of its parent galaxy, with a “remarkably bright knot” of ionized oxygen at the outermost tip.

“We think we’re seeing a wake behind the black hole where the gas cools and is able to form stars. So, we’re looking at star formation trailing the black hole,” Pieter van Dokkum of Yale University said. “What we’re seeing is the aftermath. Like the wake behind a ship we’re seeing the wake behind the black hole.”

Scientists believe either gas is being shocked and heated from the motion of the black hole or an accretion disk around the black hole is causing radiation.

“Gas in front of it gets shocked because of this supersonic, very high-velocity impact of the black hole moving through the gas. How it works exactly is not really known,” van Dokkum said.

NASA said nothing like it has ever been seen before, and the Hubble Space Telescope captured the rare sighting “accidentally.”

Van Dokkum was actually looking for globular star clusters in a nearby dwarf galaxy when he spotted the black hole. He described the trail of stars as “quite astonishing, very, very bright and very unusual.”

“This is pure serendipity that we stumbled across it,” he shared. “I was just scanning through the Hubble image and then I noticed that we have a little streak. I immediately thought, ‘Oh, a cosmic ray hitting the camera detector and causing a linear imaging artifact.’ When we eliminated cosmic rays we realized it was still there. It didn’t look like anything we’ve seen before.”

In order to figure out exactly what this bizarre image they were seeing was, van Dokkum and his team did a follow-up spectroscopy with the W. M. Keck Observatories in Hawaii, where they ultimately concluded they were seeing the aftermath of a black hole speeding through the galaxy.

The black hole, which weighs as much as 20 million suns, is most likely caused by “a rare, bizarre game of galactic billiards among three massive black holes” — multiple collisions of supermassive black holes.

Astronomers believe the runaway black hole was set free after two galaxies merged about 50 million years ago — which brought together two supermassive black holes at their centers. Then a third galaxy came with its own supermassive black hole, and the three combined to form a “chaotic and unstable configuration.”

NASA wrote, “This follows the old idiom: ‘Two’s company and three’s a crowd.’”

Researchers believe one of the black holes gained momentum from the other two and escaped out of its host galaxy, while the other two took off in the opposite direction.

Scientists said the next step is to confirm the explanation behind the black hole using the James Webb Space Telescope and the Chandra X-ray Observatory for follow-up observations.

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