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How close can four black holes get to one another? Check out this ‘quadruple quasar’

Surprised as they were, the astronomers that discovered the four quasars inside the rare giant nebula, made up of cool, dense hydrogen gas, they merrily decided to call it the ”Jackpot Nebula”.

Now they need to decide wether they simply got very lucky, or if they actually need to modify their theories. Because the thing is, that seeing even one quasar is a stroke of sensation, whereas finding four of them in one nebula is a one in ten million opportunity. Add to that the relatively short lifespan of any quasar before they turn into a black hole, and you begin to understand exactly how lucky those astronomers over at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy were.

Nothing shines brighter in deep space than a quasar, which is the name scientists have given the phase in a galaxy’s life where matter starts falling inwards, collecting a supermassive amount of matter, and with time a black hole emerges from the process. The black hole, on the other hand, is about as dark as it gets, since not even light gets out of the supergravity pull towards the center of the hole.

To make things even brighter, the light from the four unusual quasars have traveled through the universe for over ten billion years now, which also provides good material for the discovery of how quasars started out in our universe.

But wait, there is more to the Jackpot Nebula than this. It was found in a part of space that J. Xavier Prochaska, professor at the University of California Santa Cruz describes as intriguing: ”There are several hundred times more galaxies in this region than you would expect to see at these distances”. Professor J. Xavier Prochaska is also the principal investigator of the Keck observations at the WM Keck Observatory in Hawaii.

Now theories are re-evaluated and discussed about this rare occurrence, where one idea is that heavily trafficked parts of the universe are more likely to have car accidents happen, or rather, that galaxies collide or merge more often in a dense proto-cluster filled with other galaxies.

A quasar’s got to eat, so the overflowing presence of gas in the Jackpot Nebula is an excellent meal to feed the four bright phenomena at such a far distance from us, as they with immense veolocity turn themselves into massive black holes.