A team of international astronomers have reclassified a galaxy after finding that a supermassive black hole in its centre has changed direction and is now aiming towards the Earth. The galaxy in question is found 657 million light-years away from us and goes by the name of PBC J2333.9-2343.
“We started to study this galaxy as it showed peculiar properties. Our hypothesis was that the relativistic jet of its supermassive black hole had changed its direction, and to confirm that idea we had to carry out a lot of observations,” said Dr Lorena Hernandez-Garcia, according to the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS).
In a study, the astronomers detailed the change. According to them, the galaxy was initially classified as a radio galaxy but scientists realised that the space phenomena had rotated 90 degrees and is now pointing its centre towards Earth.
This means that the galaxy is now a “blazar”, which means a galaxy point which has jet points pointing at Earth. According to RAS, blazars are very high-energy objects and are considered to be one of the most powerful phenomena in the Universe.
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Astronomers said that the jet material from the black hole has created two huge lobes on either side of the galaxy, and they are the most immediately notable thing when observed with radio waves.
“The fact that we see the nucleus is not feeding the lobes anymore means that they are very old. They are the relics of past activity, whereas the structures located closer to the nucleus represent younger and active jets,” Hernandez-Garcia said.
In the study, scientists said that they are currently unsure what sparked the change in direction, though some astronomers believe that PBC J2333.9-2343 collided with another galaxy, resulting in the shift of direction.
It is also not clear how the direction of the black hole will affect our galaxy.