Locating the Two Black Holes in NGC 6240

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Science  29 Jun 2007:
Vol. 316, Issue 5833, pp. 1877-1880
DOI: 10.1126/science.1136205

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Mergers play an important role in galaxy evolution and are key to understanding the correlation between central–black hole mass and host-galaxy properties. We used the new technology of adaptive optics at the Keck II telescope to observe NGC 6240, a merger between two disk galaxies. Our high-resolution near-infrared images, combined with radio and x-ray positions, revealed the location and environment of two central supermassive black holes. Each is at the center of a rotating stellar disk, surrounded by a cloud of young star clusters. The brightest of these young clusters lie in the plane of each disk, but surprisingly are seen only on the disks' receding side.

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