One of the most exotic and best known stellar objects are black holes. These massive objects have been the subject of many works of fiction and scientific analyses, but despite this attention, there are still many mysteries about them. Researchers at the California Institute of Technology may have some answers though, concerning the formation of the supermassive black holes found in the centers of modern galaxies.
As their name suggests, supermassive black holes are immense objects with millions and even billions of solar masses, and that mass has likely been accumulated over millions or billions of years. The mystery surrounding them though is how any supermassive black holes could have existed in the early Universe, before enough time had passed for them to grow up to 'supermassive.' One theory is that the seed black holes were formed from supermassive stars. These exotic stars would be very short lived as it is only the photons generated from its heat that will keep it from collapsing under its gravity. Over a couple million years though, the star will cool and start to collapse. As it does, according to the new research, perturbations of the gases inside the star will cause clumps to form and grow, eventually collapsing into a pair of black holes. The black holes will then orbit each other for a time, before merging into a single, larger black hole.
Currently this work is all theoretical, but it may be possible to experimentally confirm it. As the twin black holes revolve about each other, they would produce gravitational waves, as described by General Relativity. These waves would still be visible at the edge of the Universe to the proper detectors. Of course, if this theory is confirmed and solves one mystery, it will likely create another.