Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2015 October 20

When Black Holes Collide
Video Credit & Copyright: Simulating Extreme Spacetimes Collaboration

Explanation: What happens when two black holes collide? This extreme scenario likely occurs in the centers of some merging galaxies and multiple star systems. The featured video shows a computer animation of the final stages of such a merger, while highlighting the gravitational lensing effects that would appear on a background starfield. The black regions indicate the event horizons of the dynamic duo, while a surrounding ring of shifting background stars indicates the position of their combined Einstein ring. All background stars not only have images visible outside of this Einstein ring, but also have one or more companion images visible on the inside. Eventually the two black holes coalesce. The end stages of such a merger may provide a strong and predictable blast of gravitational radiation, a much sought after form of radiation different than light that has never yet been directly observed.

Space Music Video: APOD images from September 2015
Tomorrow's picture: unfamiliar terrain

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (UMCP)
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