We don’t want to alert you, but there’s a black hole that’s pointing Earth squarely in your face.
Scientists have reclassified a galaxy after discovering that the supermassive black hole at its center has changed direction and is now aiming directly at us.
The galaxy in question is found 657 million light-years from Earth, and has the catchy name PBC J2333.9-2343.
We started studying this galaxy because it showed strange properties. Our hypothesis was that the relativistic jet of its supermassive black hole had changed direction, and to confirm that idea we had to make a lot of observations.” He said.
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The study, published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, goes into detail about the change.
PBC J2333.9-2343 was previously classified as a giant radio galaxy because at one point it sent out a jet of material on either side, which measures nearly a mind-boggling four million light-years across — about 40 times the size of our own galaxy.
It was quite a shock, then, when astronomers looked at PBC J2333.9-2343 and realized it was pointing directly at us.
This means that the galaxy has moved 90 degrees, and is now a “blazar” – meaning a point galaxy with jet points heading towards Earth.
The jet of matter from the black hole has created two massive lobes on either side of the galaxy that are the most immediately noticeable objects when observed in radio waves.
“The fact that we see that the core is not feeding the lobes anymore means that they are very old. They are the remnants of past activity, while the structures near the core represent the young, active jets,” Hernandez-García continued.
It is not clear exactly how this could happen. One guess is that PBC J2333.9-2343 collided with another galaxy, which could explain how the axis angle changed.
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