South African scientists have discovered an unexpected alignment in the rotating axes of supermassive black holes in different galaxies millions of light years apart.

Prof Andrew Russ Taylor and PhD graduate student Preshanth Jagannathan, both of the Department of Astronomy at University of Cape Town, published their discovery in the Monthly Notice Letters of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Their discovery came about as a result of their advance research for the MeerKAT and Square Kilometre Array (SKA) radio telescopes, which are being built in South Africa. The SKA, to be spread across South Africa and Australia, is set to become the most powerful radio telescope in the world and one of the biggest scientific instruments ever devised.

The authors conclude that the alignment is unlikely to be a coincidence. The presence of alignments and certain preferred orientations can shed light on the orientation and evolution of the galaxies, in relation to largescale structures, and the motions in the primordial matter fluctuations that gave rise to the structure of the Universe.


It can be expected that this discovery will be a prime focus for the MeerKAT and SKA once they become operational.

(Photo: Source, Andrew Russ Taylor.)