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The two supermassive black holes heading for a collision. Photo: ESO/Voggel et al.

Scientists have found a pair of supermassive black holes that are the closest to Earth discovered so far.

Why it matters: The pair could help scientists learn more about how large black holes in the middle of galaxies like our Milky Way form and grow.

What's happening: The pair of supermassive black holes is located about 89 million light-years away in the galaxy NGC 7727, according to a new study in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

  • "The small separation and velocity of the two black holes indicate that they will merge into one monster black hole, probably within the next 250 million years," Holger Baumgardt, a professor at the University of Queensland, and an author of the new study said in a statement.
  • The mass of the larger black hole at the center of the galaxy is about 154 million times the mass of the Sun; the smaller one weighs in at 6.3 million times the Sun's mass.

The big picture: The researchers think the two supermassive black holes in NGC 7727 ended up on this collision course thanks to a galactic merger.

  • "Our finding implies that there might be many more of these relics of galaxy mergers out there and they may contain many hidden massive black holes that still wait to be found," Karina Voggel, of the Strasbourg Observatory in France and an author of the study said in the statement.
  • "It could increase the total number of supermassive black holes known in the local universe by 30 percent."

Go deeper

Hope King, author of Closer
Jan 12, 2022 - Economy & Business

Exclusive: King Center partners with Goldman Sachs’ One Million Black Women initiative

This April 29, 2018 photo shows the tomb where Martin Luther King, Jr., and his wife Coretta Scott King are interred in Atlanta at the King Center. (Photo: AP Photo/Beth J. Harpaz)

Goldman Sachs is helping to relaunch a youth leadership program run by the King Center, Axios is first to report.

  • The new partnership, announced today, is part of the investment firm’s $10 billion, 10-year effort to close the economic gap that Black women continue to face.

Why it matters: Goldman Sachs launched its One Million Black Women initiative last March in response to a national outcry for companies and individuals to do more to reverse racial injustices. 

  • Civil rights leader Coretta Scott King founded the King Center in Atlanta following the assassination of her husband Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to promote nonviolent social change.

Details: The King Center’s Beloved Community Leadership Academy is designed to help 13- to 18-year-olds develop leadership skills and character, while learning about nonviolent strategies that can lead to societal change. 

  • Through the partnership, the program will also create a cohort of Black girls from across the country who can participate in programs related to One Million Black Women and access mentorship.

What they’re saying: “By lifting up Black women and girls everywhere, we can not only honor the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., but also create a more dynamic and inclusive economy,” said David Solomon, chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs. 

The big picture: The inequities affecting a demographic group which makes up more than 6% of the U.S. population has held the country back from meeting its economic potential, S&P Global U.S. chief economist Beth Ann Bovino told Axios executive editor Aja Whitaker-Moore

  • The pandemic has also exacerbated the gap.
  • The latest example: While the unemployment rate for U.S. workers fell in December, the percentage of Black women who were unemployed grew to 6.2% from 4.9% in November — the only gender and racial group to experience an increase.

First look: Senators propose bill to ban corporate PACs

Sens. Jon Ossoff and Mark Kelly. Photos: Chip Somodevilla (left), Courtney Pedroza/Getty Images

Sens. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) and Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) will soon propose a bill prohibiting for-profit corporations from establishing and managing political action committees, according to a copy of the legislation obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: The introduction of "The Ban Corporate PACs Act" comes amid heightened scrutiny on Capitol Hill regarding money in politics, including efforts to bar companies from influencing political campaigns and federal elections. It would likely face a court challenge and First Amendment concerns.

2 hours ago - Technology

Exclusive: YouTube shuts down two Oath Keepers channels

Stewart Rhodes, founder of Oath Keepers. (Photo: Aaron C. Davis/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

YouTube has deactivated two channels linked to the Oath Keepers militia group whose members have been charged in relation to the January 6 Capitol riot, the company told Axios.

The big picture: Social media platforms that were used to plan or promote the Capitol attack have moved with varying degrees of speed to bar the accounts involved.