Two black holes shattered and completely changed what we knew about the universe

Photo credit: CHRIS HENZE/NASA/SPL - Getty Images
Photo Credit: Chris Haynes / NASA / SPL – Getty Images

From popular dynamics

  • Researchers have discovered the most powerful black hole link in the recorded black hole class. Intermediate-mass black holes.

  • Used by astronomers LIGO and Virgo Labs To analyze gravitational waves.

  • Researchers say chaotic collisions may be the result of a chain reaction of conflicts.

Nearly seven billion years ago, two terrifying black holes merged in a terrifying celestial event that shot the pulse of gravitational waves across the universe. Surprisingly, those gravitational waves reached Earth only a year ago, and astronomers now believe they have discovered More powerful black hole collision: The event they called GW190521.

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Researchers at the Laser Interferometer Gravity-Wave Laboratory (Virgo Laboratory in Italy) in the United States first detected ripples in the fabric of waves-space-time in May 2019. Astronomers said in two documents released last week that it was 66 and 85 times larger than our Sun. Physical examination letters And Journal of Astronomy. When they collided, they formed a black hole about 142 times larger than our Sun.

Not only is this the most powerful eruption ever recorded, it also proves the existence of a rare type of black hole: intermediate-mass black holes. “Now we can settle the case and say there are intermediate mass black holes,” said Christopher Perry, a LIGO astronomer at Northwest University. National Geography.

A black hole should theoretically be 85 times the mass of our Sun. This does not bode well with the theories that researchers have about how stars die. Stars that are a few times to 60 times the mass of our sun typically burn up all of their fuel, eventually collapsing into themselves, forming a “regular” black hole.

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Stars that are 60 to 130 times larger than our Sun are erupting, but they are not usually black holes. Instead, they are called a pair-unstable supernova. The heat generated during the contraction of a star And so on All powerful, expelled objects are destroyed. According to current theory, it cannot become a black hole. (Miraculous black holes, such as those photographed at the center of the M87, are formed by the mass of our sun from millions of stars.)

“Such an invention brings both depression and joy at the same time,” said Daniel Holmes, a LIGO team member and 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 the race is trying to figure out what is going on right now.”

How did this massive conflict unfold? Some researchers suggest that black holes colliding with each other are primitive, meaning they existed shortly after the Big Bang and follow their own cosmic guidelines. Another theory is that these mysterious intermediate-mass black holes formed from previous black hole connections.

For this scenario to work, location is important. When black holes collide, the gravitational waves they create often cause them to retreat, expelling them from their galaxy. But for these two massive black holes to meet, the galaxy where their previous collisions occurred must have been incredibly crowded and had enough gravitational force to keep the black holes relatively close.

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Astronomers do not know where the massive collision occurred. However, there is a clue. In June, researchers at the Zwicky Transcend Observatory in California observed an expansion of a quasar in approximately the same sky. This bright flash may be the result of shock waves generated by a knitted black hole formed during the GW190521 event. But more work needs to be done to connect the two events.

Anyway, this is an aquatic moment in astronomy. The discoveries made at the Virgin Laboratory and the LIGO were dual laboratories located in Washington and Louisiana, respectively, redesigning our understanding of the universe and winning the Nobel Prize for researchers. The work done in these labs allowed astronomers to gently tease the very secrets of our universe. They are not finished yet.

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Cary Douglas

About the Author: Cary Douglas

Wayne Ma is a reporter who covers everything from oil trading to China's biggest conglomerates and technology companies. Originally from Chicago, he is a graduate of New York University's business and economic reporting program.

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