Astronomers from the National Radio Astronomy Observatory discovered the shredded remains of a galaxy that passed through a larger galaxy, leaving only the smaller galaxy’s nearly-naked supermassive black hole to emerge and speed away at more than 2,000 miles per second.
The fascinating discovery was made when astronomers used National Science Foundation’s Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) known to have super-sharp radio vision, to detect supermassive black holes, millions or billions of times more massive than the Sun, that are not at the centers of galaxies.
Located in a galaxy cluster called ZwCl 8193, approximately two billion light years away, the object called B3 1715+425, was probably formed when a large galaxy collided with a smaller one millions of years ago. This celestial event stripped the latter of nearly all its stars and gas.
What remains is its black hole and a small galactic remnant only about 3,000 light-years across. (Remember: our Milky Way Galaxy is approximately 100,000 light-years across.)
Additionally, this object is speeding away from the core of a much larger galaxy, leaving a wake of ionized gas behind it.
The speeding object will lose more and more mass and eventually cease forming new stars.
With the VLBA, astronomers will observe and discover many more objects similar to the fascinating and peculiar B3 1714+425.