Space oddity: The Whirlpool galaxy is dotted with black holes

This new and fantastic X-Ray Image of the Whirlpool Galaxy shows it is full of black holes. But why?

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In the Milky Way there’s a single X-ray binary — a system consisting of a black hole capturing and heating material from an orbiting companion star — known as Cygnus X-1. But 30 million light-years away in the Whirlpool galaxy, M51, there are hundreds of X-ray points of light and a full 10 X-ray binaries. Amazing!

Whirlpool Galaxy, Whirlpool Galaxy photo, Whirlpool Galaxy oddity, Whirlpool Galaxy mystery, Whirlpool Galaxy is full of Black Holes, Whirlpool Galaxy is Dotted with Black Holes, space oddity, space anomaly: Whirlpool Galaxy is Dotted with Black Holes, Space mystery: Why is the Whirlpool galaxy dotted with black holes?Photo: The Whirlpool galaxy seen in both optical (red, green and blue) and X-ray (purple) light. Image Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/Wesleyan Univ./R.Kilgard, et al; Optical: NASA/STScI
Space mystery: Why is the Whirlpool galaxy dotted with black holes?Photo: The Whirlpool galaxy seen in both optical (red, green and blue) and X-ray (purple) light. X-ray: NASA/CXC/Wesleyan Univ./R.Kilgard, et al; Optical: NASA/STScI

But why is this galaxy dotted with black holes?

As hypothesized by Universe Today, the Whirlpool galaxy is thought to have so many X-ray binaries because it’s in the process of colliding with a smaller companion galaxy. This interaction triggers waves of star formation, creating new stars at a rate seven times faster than the Milky Way and supernova deaths at a rate 10-100 times faster.

The more-massive stars simply race through their evolution in a few million years and collapse to form neutron stars or black holes quickly. WOW!

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