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Author Topic: Bizarre Black Holes Revealed by New Space-Time Ripples  (Read 111 times)

Offline zorgon

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Bizarre Black Holes Revealed by New Space-Time Ripples
« on: July 16, 2017, 04:18:42 PM »
Bizarre Black Holes Revealed by New Space-Time Ripples

More massive than expected, the black holes collided three billion years ago and sent gravitational waves washing over Earth.




Two black holes merge in the distant cosmos in an illustration of the event that created the latest gravitational wave signal.
Image Courtesy Aurore Simonnet, LIGO, Caltech, MIT, Sonoma State


Quote

By Nadia Drake

PUBLISHED June 1, 2017

A long time ago in a star cluster far, far away … two curiously massive black holes collided and became one, unleashing a torrent of energy that kinked the fabric of space-time itself.

Now, instruments on Earth have sensed the gentle ripples from that distant cosmic cataclysm, marking the third-ever confirmed direct detection of gravitational waves. The combined detections, all reported by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO), are opening up a new window onto the cosmos.

Crucially, the waves carry information about their far-flung sources, and the results are challenging a bunch of ideas about how black holes grow, where they live, and how they end up locked in such violent, deadly dances. (Read “Astronomers May Finally Have the First Picture of a Black Hole.”)

“The universe still contains mysteries,” says astrophysicist Daryl Haggard of McGill University. “We thought we were walking through the world knowing how black holes happened, and now we’re seeing that there’s some real discovery space here.”
Boom Go the Black Holes

LIGO detected waves from the latest black hole collision on January 4, 2017—about three billion years after the actual event happened. The gravitational ripples washed over Earth and ever so slightly jiggled identical sets of lasers and mirrors built in Hanford, Washington, and Livingston, Louisiana.

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The waves shrank and expanded space on Earth by just a fraction of the width of a proton, one of the particles that makes up an atomic nucleus. That’s obviously impossible for humans to perceive, but LIGO’s detectors are so sensitive that even such tiny perturbations can’t escape their laser eyes.

After carefully analyzing the signal, the LIGO team determined it was the fingerprint of a catastrophic collision between two black holes, one with a mass equal to roughly 30 suns, and the other with the mass of 19 suns.

Those black holes had been dancing around one another for eons, slowly being drawn into what would become a cosmic death spiral. As they tiptoed closer together, the black holes radiated energy in the form of gravitational waves. And when they eventually collided and merged, they released even more energy, also in the form of these cosmic ripples.

The resulting single black hole born of that furious cosmic spiral is a whopping 50 solar masses-worth of curved, bottomless space-time, the team reports today in the journal Physical Review Letters.
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/06/black-holes-gravitational-waves-space-genius-science/

 


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