- On May 21, 2019, astronomers detected four small wiggles of gravitational waves passing through the Earth.
- It was found from a source that is five gigaparsecs away.
- The merger of the two black holes led to the creation of a new class called intermediate-mass black holes (IMBH).
Some time ago, accurate to seven billion years ago, two blackholes — believed to be physically impossible to exist — collided to produce a catastrophic explosion. On May 21, 2019, astronomers detected four small wiggles of gravitational waves passing through the Earth. The source of these signals has been traced to this seven billion year old collision, which occurred more than ten billion light years away.
The discovery of the largest source of gravitational waves ever discovered was published in a peer-review journal this week. The collision raised by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) in the United States and its counterpart in Italy came from this insanely far-reaching collision. The discovery was published in September 2015, just five years after the first gravitational wave was detected.
Gravitational waves are disturbances or ripples in the space-time continuum due to the most violent and energetic processes in the universe. The existence of gravitational waves was first predicted by Albert Einstein in 1916 through his general theory of relativity and empirically proved a century later.
Farthest signal yet
In May 2019, the miniature gravity signal received by LIGO collided with two massive black holes was named GW190521. LIGO found the waves in the space-time continuum to be four short wiggles, a tenth of a second. It was found from a source that is five gigaparsecs away, thus making it one of the farthest gravity sources known by LIGO.
The signals were generated by merging two binary black holes, both largely in the ‘impossible’ category of black holes. The research paper suggests that two highly rotating black holes — about 66 and 85 times larger than the mass of the Sun — collided and merged. The collision released a vast amount of energy that spread in the form of gravitational waves in the universe.
But this in itself has come as a surprise to scientists. According to the Australian National University (ANU) statement, whose scientists were involved in the discovery, the merger of two black holes has led to the creation of a class black hole known as intermediate-mass black hole (IMBH) until now It was elusive for scientists.
Mass of black hole
All black holes found so far fall broadly into two categories: a stellar-mass black hole (less than 100 solar masses) and a supermassive black hole (more than 1,000 solar masses). Black holes that have more than 100,000 solar masses over 100 are IMBHs.
According to research, these two black holes collided to form a black hole weighing 142 times the mass of the Sun. This is the largest black hole ever discovered through observation of gravitational waves.
The discovery gave scientists a rare glimpse at one of the sections of the black hole that had never been found before. This is why astronomers have called it an ‘impossible’ black hole. Professor Susan Scott of ANU said, “We are very excited to get the first direct observation of an IMBH on this large scale. We also saw how it formed, confirming that the IMB merges two small black holes. Can originate from. ” Research School of Physics, a co-author on publication.
Supermassive black holes (SMBH) are those that are usually at the center of galaxies and were formed during the early years of the Universe. Stellar black holes, on the other hand, are less than 100 times the mass of the Sun and are formed due to the breakdown of stars.
The merger of black holes remains a mystery
Another ‘impossible’ aspect of the current discovery is the nature of the merged black hole. Astronomers hypothesize that stars between 65–130 times the mass of the Sun undergo a process known as pair-instability, which results in the star completely falling apart and thus leaving nothing behind. Definitely not a black hole.
Now, the heavy (85) between the two merging black holes is said to be the first-to-first detection, which is within the pair of instability mass gaps. So, the question that bothers physicists is how is a black hole with mass in the middle of this ‘instability’ boundary?
A popular theory is that the black hole is not the product of a collapsing star, but was a result of a similar merger. But, so far we have not found any such evidence. Virgo member Nelson Christenson says, “Regarding the fact that we are seeing a black hole in this mass gap, many astrophysicists will scratch their heads and try to figure out how these black holes were formed.”
The study was published in the journal Astrophysical journal letter This week can be accessed here.
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