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Gravitational wave observatories detect biggest black hole merger yet

Posted On: 2 Sep 2020   |   Posted By: Astronomy Now

Gravitational wave observatories detect biggest black hole merger yet

Artist's impression of black holes about to collide. Image: Mark Myers, ARC Centre of Excellence for Gravitational Wave Discovery .
The LIGO and VIRGO gravitational wave observatories have detected ripples in space-time lasting just a tenth of a second that indicate the merger of two black holes with 85 and 65 solar masses. The result was a single black hole with 142 times the Sun's mass, the first direct evidence of an intermediate-mass black hole, one that weighs in at 100 and 100,000 solar masses.
While multiple black hole mergers have been detected by gravitational waves since the first was observed in 2015, the 142-solar-mass hole in this case - GW190521 - is the most massive and most distant yet found. Eight solar masses were converted into energy in the collision, creating the gravitational waves that reached Earth on 21 May 2019, seven billion years after the fact.
“Right from the beginning this signal, which is only a tenth of a second long, challenged us in identifying its origin,” said...

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