Friday, 05 March, 2021


Most massive black-hole merger results in powerful ripple in space

Alain BOMMENEL Alain BOMMENEL"This detection confirms that there is a vast universe that has remained invisible to us" said LIGO astrophysicist Karan Jani
Kristine Garrett | 03 September, 2020, 13:09

Astronomers know that stellar-mass black holes - black holes ranging from 10 times to 100 times the Sun's mass - are the remnants of dying stars, and that supermassive black holes, more than 1,000,000 times the mass of the Sun, inhabit the centers of most galaxies.

The merger released a huge amount of energy (about 8 Suns-worth), which then spread across the universe in the form of gravitational waves.

This is the first ever image of a black hole. He notes that the process for making an IMBH is 500 times more rare than that of either stellar or supermassive black holes - on par with the odds of intercepting a golf ball shot from Argentina in mid-flight with a second golf ball shot from China.

One possible explanation includes the collision of smaller black holes in an area so small these collisions happen by chance. This discovery was made with the National Science Foundation's Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO), a pair of identical, 4-kilometer-long interferometers, and Virgo, a 3-kilometer-long detector in Italy. After deciphering the signal and checking their work, scientists published the results Wednesday in Physical Review Letters and Astrophysical Journal Letters.

The findings, she added, support the idea that supermassive black holes could be formed through the repeated merger of these mid-sized bodies.

"This is our first example of a black hole in that forbidden range", Professor Scott said.

The search is over.

"This event is a challenge for the current models of black hole formation", said Mapelli.

"With electromagnetic radiation, light, we can see the universe but with gravitational waves, we can hear the universe", Christensen says.

With this detection, LIGO has observed the unexpected and led to another breakthrough.

Comparatively, other gravitational-wave detections have produced hundreds of waveforms.

Another "more exotic" hypothesis is that they formed from primordial black holes from the early universe. And the four little wiggles picked up by the detectors represent a literal bang that traveled across space to reach us on Earth 7 billion years later. It was that wave that physicists in the United States and Europe, using detectors called LIGO and Virgo, captured past year.

"This doesn't look much like a chirp, which is what we typically detect", said Dr. Nelson Christensen, a researcher at the French National Centre for Scientific Research.

LIGO and Virgo are being upgraded and are set to restart observations in 2022 with increased sensitivity, allowing them to survey three times as much of the cosmos.

GW190521, as the colossal event has been named, is the most massive black hole collision we've ever directly detected.

And while there have been theories about those black holes that are 100 solar masses or higher - called intermediate-mass black holes - none have been directly observed. For clusters to be nurseries for black holes in the mass gap, the recoils need to be low and the clusters must be massive enough to keep them from escaping, Loeb says.

A "massive gravitational wave source" from two black holes merging produced a blast equal to the energy of eight suns and sent shockwaves through the universe. When this outward pressure is less than gravity, the star collapses under its own weight, in an explosion called a core-collapse supernova, that can leave behind a black hole. Stars that are roughly 65 times more massive are believed to destroy themselves.

The signal of the merger is the first clear detection of an "intermediate-mass" black hole. But how did it form? Since they don't emit or reflect any radiation we can detect, we usually don't even know they're there, unless they're actively devouring material - a process that emits a great deal of radiation from just outside the black hole. 2020. Properties and Astrophysical Implications of the 150 M Sun Binary Black Hole Merger GW190521.

"LIGO once again surprises us not just with the detection of black holes in sizes that are hard to explain, but doing it using techniques that were not designed specifically for stellar mergers", says Pedro Marronetti, program director for gravitational physics at NSF.

"This event opens more questions than it provides answers", said LIGO member Alan Weinstein, professor of physics at Caltech.

In fact, the researchers are considering that this incredibly short signal may have been created by an entirely different source rather than the merging of black holes.

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