2 black holes collapsed and completely changed what we know about the universe

Photo Credit: Chris Heinz / NASA / SPL – Getty Images

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  • Researchers have recorded and discovered the most powerful black hole merger of an already disputed class of black holes: the intermediate-mass black hole.

  • Astronomers used LIGO and Virgo observatories to analyze gravitational waves.

  • Researchers say the chain reaction may be the result of a collision.

Roughly seven billion years ago, two catastrophic black holes slid together so hard in a catastrophic celestial event that it shot a pulse of gravitational waves outside the universe. Surprisingly, those gravitational waves reached Earth only a year ago, and astronomers believe they have collided with the most powerful black hole yet: a phenomenon they termed GW190521.

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Researchers at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) in the US and the Virgo Observatory in Italy first detected waves-waves in the space-time fabric in May 2019. Two dashed black holes at the heart of the collision were 66 and 85 times more massive than our sun, astronomers report in two papers published last week Physical review letter And The Astrophysical Journal. When they collide, they formed a supermassive black hole about 142 times larger than our Sun.

Not only is it likely to be the most powerful eruption, but it testifies to the existence of a rare class of black holes: intermediate-mass black holes. “Now we can settle the matter and say that intermediate-mass black holes exist,” LIGO astronomer Christopher Berry of Northwestern University told National Geographic.

Black holes should not exist 85 times the mass of our Sun. This does not pair well with researchers about how the stars say the stars die. Stars ranging from a few times to 60 times the mass of our Sun typically burn all their fuel and eventually form “traditional” black holes.

Stars outlast about 60 to 130 times more massive explosions than our sun, but they usually do not become black holes. Instead, they form something called a pair-instability supernova. The heat occurring during compression of stars is So All powerful, extruded substances are destroyed. According to current theory, it cannot become just a black hole. (Super black black holes, like the one in the center of M87, have a photo, formed from the mass of our sun in the form of billions of billions.)

“This kind of discovery is simultaneously disappointing and exhilarating,” said LIGO team member Daniel Holz, a theorist at the University of Chicago, new York Times. “On the one hand, one of our cherished beliefs has been proven wrong. On the other hand, there is something new and unexpected here, and now it is trying to know what is going on. ”

So how was this massive collision exposed? Some researchers propose black holes that slid into each other, meaning that they have been around since the Big Bang and follow their own set of cosmic guidelines. Another theory suggests that perhaps these mysterious intermediate-mass black holes were formed by black hole mergers that occurred earlier.

For this scenario to work, location is important. When black holes collide, the gravitational waves they produce often cause them to exit their galaxy and regenerate. But to meet these two massive black holes, the galaxy in which they had previously collided was incredibly crowded and sufficient for a gravitational pull to keep the black hole relatively close.

Astronomers are not sure where the massive collision occurred. However, there is a clue. In June, researchers at the Zwicky Transient Observatory in California noticed flashes of a quasar in almost the same patch of sky. This bright flash may be the result of a shockwave created by a black hole created during the GW190521 event. But more work needs to be done to connect the two phenomena.

In any case, it is a watershed moment in astrophysics. Discoveries at the twin observatories, Virgo Observatory and LIGO, located in Washington and Louisiana, respectively, have reshaped our understanding of the universe and earned the Nobel Prize to researchers there. The work done in these observatories has allowed astronomers to slowly tease out the most esoteric mysteries of our universe. They are not finished yet.

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