Letter

Nature 458, 53-55 (5 March 2009) | doi:10.1038/nature07779; Received 17 November 2008; Accepted 14 January 2009

There is a Brief Communication Arising (7 January 2010) associated with this document.

A candidate sub-parsec supermassive binary black hole system

Todd A. Boroson1 & Tod R. Lauer1

  1. National Optical Astronomy Observatory, Tucson, Arizona 85726, USA

Correspondence to: Todd A. Boroson1 Correspondence and requests for materials should be addressed to T.A.B. (Email: tyb@noao.edu).

The role of mergers in producing galaxies, together with the finding that most large galaxies harbour black holes in their nuclei1, implies that binary supermassive black hole systems should be common. Here we report that the quasar SDSS J153636.22+044127.0 is a plausible example of such a system. This quasar shows two broad-line emission systems, separated in velocity by 3,500 km s-1. A third system of unresolved absorption lines has an intermediate velocity. These characteristics are unique among known quasars. We interpret this object as a binary system of two black holes, having masses of 107.3 and 108.9 solar masses separated by approx0.1 parsec with an orbital period of approx100 years.

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