AUG 15, 2022 4:00 PM PDT

Astronomers Witnessed the Merging of Two Black Holes That Were Born Far Apart in Space

WRITTEN BY: Amanpreet Kaur

Think of our spacetime as fabric. When we place something in it, the fabric curves. This is what happens everywhere in the Universe. For example, in our solar system, the Sun curves the spacetime around it and all the planets orbit around it following this curvature. The amount by which any object curves/bends the spacetime depends upon its mass just like for a real fabric and an object. Now anything that has mass and moves creates ripples/waves. For example, when a stone is dropped into water it creates ripples that travel far away from the point where it was dropped. Moreover, their intensity decreases with distance. The same phenomenon happens to the objects in the Universe. Everything causes these ripples including our Earth and the Sun. However, these ripples are tiny and too weak to be measured by our technology.

The only things which can create ripples/waves measurable by our instruments are black holes, and only when they merge to form a bigger black hole. These ripples in astronomy are called gravitational waves, which were first detected in September 2015 by an instrument called LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory). This instrument detected a merging event of two black holes that weighed 29 and 36 solar masses (1 solar mass = mass of the Sun) that were 1.3 billion light years away. See the video below to see how two black holes merge.

LIGO has been detecting these kinds of events since its first discovery, but for the first time, a team of astronomers investigated their archival data to find something extraordinarily interesting. This team led by a physicist, Seth Olsen from Princeton University, found a merger event that contained black holes that were formed far away in space from each other, but still found a way to merge. How do they know that these two black holes were formed far away from each other by looking at how they spun? All black holes spin just like toy tops and if two black holes are formed in the same place, they tend to have their spins aligned. However, the black holes in this scenario had no correlation whatsoever in their spins. This discovery then opened up a new set of questions, i.e., how did these two come together despite being born in a faraway space from each other? This work was recently published in the Physical Review Letters journal. 

Source: PRLScience News

About the Author
PhD in Physics
Aman (she/her) is a scientific writer at labroots and an astrophysics researcher at Penn State University. She works in the field of high-energy astrophysics such as black holes, gamma-rays, etc., and collects data from various space telescopes to conduct her research. She received her doctorate from Clemson University in Physics. On a personal note, she loves spending time out in nature; camping or hiking. If given a choice, she will decorate her house only with plants, did she say she likes plants? :D
You May Also Like
AUG 05, 2022
Space & Astronomy
First Detection of a Compact, Massive Triple Star System
AUG 05, 2022
First Detection of a Compact, Massive Triple Star System
Two researchers at the Niels Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen are studying an usually compact system of th ...
AUG 15, 2022
Plants & Animals
Big Brown Bats Live Longer Due to Hibernation
AUG 15, 2022
Big Brown Bats Live Longer Due to Hibernation
A recent study published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences discusses hibernation as the sec ...
AUG 18, 2022
Space & Astronomy
Stars and Black Holes immediately after Big Bang
AUG 18, 2022
Stars and Black Holes immediately after Big Bang
In a recent study published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, a team of researchers from the Uni ...
AUG 15, 2022
Microbiology
Untangling the Links Between Alcohol, Liver Disease & Gut Microbes
AUG 15, 2022
Untangling the Links Between Alcohol, Liver Disease & Gut Microbes
Chronic alcohol use is a serious health problem, and a major contributor to liver disease and mortality. The gut microbi ...
SEP 09, 2022
Space & Astronomy
Perseverance Likes Green Sand with Red Sand
SEP 09, 2022
Perseverance Likes Green Sand with Red Sand
In an array of studies, one published in Science Advances and two published in Science, a large international team of re ...
SEP 15, 2022
Technology
Scientists Develop Perovskite Solar Cell That Has Greater Efficiency & Stability
SEP 15, 2022
Scientists Develop Perovskite Solar Cell That Has Greater Efficiency & Stability
In a recent study published in Nature, a team of researchers led by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in B ...
Loading Comments...