When Black Holes Merge: Scientists Spot the Largest Black Hole Collision Ever

The collision resulted in the merging of two black holes that spawned a new, massive black hole, eighty times larger than our sun.

Two Black Holes collided, and as they did, they formed a new black hole 80 times larger than our Sun, sending ripples through space-time.

An international group of scientists has detected the largest ever black hole collision. This cosmic phenomenon was so powerful, it sent ripples across space-time.

Researchers discovered the existence of space-time ripples, officially known as gravitational waves back in 2016 in a revolutionary study. However, despite their recent confirmation, ‘gravitational waves’ were predicted to exist roughly a century go by no other than the great Albert Einstein.

Now, astronomers from ANU have spotted what is considered the largest ever black hole merger, which resulted in the formation of a supermassive black hole, around 80 times larger than our sun.

Graphic showing the masses of recently announced gravitational-wave detections and black holes and neutron stars. Credit: LIGO-Virgo / Frank Elavsky / Northwestern.
Graphic showing the masses of recently announced gravitational-wave detections and black holes and neutron stars. Credit: LIGO-Virgo / Frank Elavsky / Northwestern.

Scientists at ANU worked closely with the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) based in the United States.

By analyzing data gathered during LIGO’s two observational runs, scientists discovered a total of four collisions.

All four events found were reported in Physical Review X.

Among them, scientists spotted the formation of the biggest known black hole, which resulted in the collision and merger of a binary system of black holes, located around nine billion light years away from Earth.

“This event also had black holes spinning the fastest of all mergers observed so far. It is also by far the most distant merger observed,” explained Professor Susan Scott, from the Australian National University (ANU).

The video below shows computer calculations modeling the gravitational waves produced by the collision and merger of the binary pair of black holes.

The other three black hole collision spotted in the data by LIGO took place in August 2017.

The black holes collision occurred at a distance between 3 to 6 billion light years from Earth. The black holes they formed were between fifty-six and sixty-six times bigger than our sun.

“These were from four different binary black hole systems smashing together and radiating strong gravitational waves out into space,” said Professor Scott.

“These detections of black hole collisions greatly improve our understanding of how many binary black hole systems there are in the universe, as well as the range of their masses and how fast the black hole’s spin during a merger.”

Astronomers estimate that there are roughly 10,000 black holes located at the very center of our Galaxy, the Milky Way. These black holes are located around a supermassive black hole at the center.

Australian National Univerity
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