Q&A: Black Holes
Will the collision of the two
supermassive black holes REALLY damage the entire
universe? Will it affect Earth? If it does damage the
universe, how long will it last?
Don't worry. Although the collision of two supermassive black
holes in a distant galaxy could do serious damage to the
inner parts of galaxy in which they reside, they would do no
harm to Earth, let alone the entire universe. We can be
reasonably sure of this because the observations of the
galaxy NGC 6240 indicate that two supermassive black holes
are orbiting each other and will eventually collide. This
suggests that it is very likely that black holes in other
galaxies have collided before, some in the distant past. The
effects of these collisions should have reached us by now,
and the Earth, the Sun, and the universe still exist.
Chandra will be searching for more examples of X-rays from
matter around pairs of supermassive black holes. The expected
intensity of gravitational waves from colliding black holes
is so small that it will take an extremely sensitive
gravitational wave detector to detect it. Astronomers are
hoping that the new detectors planned for the near future
will be able to do this.
For more about supermassive black holes, see: