GradImpact: Discovering Two Supermassive, Colliding Black Holes 750 Million Light-Years Away

    Karishma Bansal, a doctoral student in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of New Mexico, and her colleagues made international news in June 2017 for their groundbreaking discovery: two supermassive black holes orbiting each other. Scientists have theorized this phenomenon was possible, but Bansal is the first to prove it. Over a 10-year period, UNM’s Dr. Gregory Taylor (Bansal’s mentor) and scientists from other universities took very fine measurements with a series of 10 radio telescopes located across North America. Bansal analyzed some of the data collected and demonstrated the orbital movement.

     

    To give you some perspective, each supermassive black hole is the size of our entire solar system; they exist 750 million light-years from earth; and they move at about 4 million miles per hour. Supermassive black holes exist in the center of most large galaxies. As two galaxies began to collide, the two black holes began to orbit each other. Eventually (as in millions of years from now), the two black holes will probably merge.

     

    Someday, billions of years from now, our galaxy will collide with the Andromeda galaxy. Bansal’s research will help scientists better understand this process. To learn more about Karishma’s work, visit the University of New Mexico website.

     

    Visit the GradImpact Feature Gallery to learn more about the amazing, innovative research being done by graduate students and alumni across the world.

     

     

    **Photo Credit: C. Shell

     

     

     

    The CGS GRADIMPACT project draws from member examples to tell the larger story of graduate education. Our goal is to demonstrate the importance of graduate education not only to degree holders, but also to the communities where we live and work. Do you have a great story to share about the impact of master’s or doctoral education? Visit our WEBSITE for more information.

     

    CGS is the leading source of information, data analysis, and trends in graduate education. Our benchmarking data help member institutions to assess performance in key areas, make informed decisions, and develop plans that are suited to their goals.
    CGS Best Practice initiatives address common challenges in graduate education by supporting institutional innovations and sharing effective practices with the graduate community. Our programs have provided millions of dollars of support for improvement and innovation projects at member institutions.
    As the national advocate for graduate education, CGS serves as a resource for policymakers and others on issues concerning graduate education, research, and scholarship. CGS members receive regular updates of legislative and regulatory proposals impacting graduate education and are provided resources to use in advocacy efforts on their campuses and with policymakers and other constituents. 
    CGS is an authority on global trends in graduate education and a leader in the international graduate community. Our resources and meetings on global issues help members internationalize their campuses, develop sustainable collaborations, and prepare their students for a global future.