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Tracking the runaway black hole of galaxy 3C 186

MH 3c-186-galaxy-nasa
A supermassive black hole may have been propelled out of the center of a distant galaxy by gravitational waves. Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away … galaxy 3C 186, to be precise … two black holes merged, creating one supermassive black hole and propelling it at great speed away from the galaxy’s center.

Eileen Meyer, an associate professor of physics at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, explains how this observation bolsters theories about how galaxies and black holes behave. Meyer says, "Galaxies tend to be born in close family groups, and they’re so massive, with billions of stars, that they start sliding towards each other."

We ask Meyer about this runaway black hole and how citizen-scientists can get involved in astronomical research.

Learn more:
Zooniverse
UMBC’s Eileen Meyer and team find strongest evidence yet of a black hole zooming away from its galaxy’s center
NOEMA observations support a recoiling black hole in 3C 186 

Sheilah Kast is the host of On The Record, Monday-Friday, 9:30-10:00 am.
Maureen Harvie is senior producer for On the Record. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and joined WYPR in 2014 as an intern for the newsroom. Whether coordinating live election night coverage, capturing the sounds of a roller derby scrimmage, interviewing veterans, or booking local authors, she is always on the lookout for the next story.