Astrophysicists have obtained new evidence for the existence of a double supermassive black hole and examined in detail the jets in the distant galaxy OJ 287.

An international team of scientists led by the Andalusian Institute of Astrophysics has received new data indicating the existence of a double black hole in the central region of the OJ 287 galaxy. In the course of their work, they used data from the Russian Radioastron project.

Galaxy OJ287 is located at a distance of 5 billion light-years from Earth. It belongs to the group of blazars – the most powerful sources of continuous radiation in the Universe. The main characteristic of a blazar is the presence of a supermassive black hole at its center. However, a comparison of space and ground observations showed that OJ 287 contains not one, but two supermassive black holes. The analysis of the data also showed that a strongly curved plasma jet erupts from a source in the center of the galaxy.

In the course of the work, scientists learned more about the morphology of jets near the galactic core. They confirmed the role of magnetic fields in their “launch” and thus obtained indirect evidence for the existence of a binary system of black holes in the heart of OJ 287. And, most importantly, astrophysicists received the most detailed image of the jets of an active black hole.

The discovery was made possible by a technique known as “extra long baseline interferometry,” which allows several geographically separated radio telescopes to operate in unison, functioning as a telescope with a diameter equivalent to the distance between them. The use of the ten-meter orbital antenna “Spektr-R” of the Moscow Astrospace Center with the support of Roscosmos made it possible to create a radio telescope with a diameter fifteen times larger than the earth’s. “We have never observed the inner workings of the jets in OJ287 in such minute detail,” said study co-author Talia Traianu. Below you can see the animation made based on the new data.