Two black holes have been spotted merging to form a gigantic space monster so huge it could swallow up our entire planet and then snack on the rest of the solar system.
The newly-formed black hole is 49 times the mass of the sun and was created in a process so violent it caused a disturbance in the fabric of space-time.
The hole was created when two giant black holes which were 19 and 32 times the mass of our Sun collided.
We were able to detect the collision because it generated gravitational waves, which are ripples in space-time generated by dramatic cosmic events. The latest findings were published June 1 in Physical Review Letters.
The deep space smash actually happened about three billion years ago, because the light took so long to reach us.
The birth of a new galactic gobbler was observed using a sensitive tool called the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO,) which is designed to spot these gravitational waves.
LIGO scientists have spotted black holes colliding on two other occasions, suggesting this sort of cataclysmic event is quite common.
Gravitational waves produced by crashing holes were first observed in September 2015 and the second detection occurred three months later.
The third detection, which the astronomers labeled GW170104, was made on January 4, 2017, but has just been announced.
It appears as if the two black holes which smashed into each other were “non-aligned,” which means they are spinning in a different direction.
This means they may have been born in totally different parts of space before colliding later in their life.
“This is the first time that we have evidence that the black holes may not be aligned, which amounts to just a tiny hint that binary black holes may form in dense stellar clusters,” said Cardiff University and Penn State University’s Professor Bangalore Sathyaprakash, one of the editors for the study.