Largest Black Hole Collision detected via Gravitational Waves

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Gravitational astronomers detected the most massive and distant black hole collision till date. The black hole is said to be even bigger than our own Sun.

The Black Hole, GW190521, weighs 142 heavier than the sun. This is the first time collaborators of Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) and VIRGO interferometer have discovered such a massive black hole collision.

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A gravitational wave signal lasting 0.1 seconds emanated when black holes weighing 85 times and 66 times of solar mass, respectively, collided in a binary system. This newly- formed the black hole, GW190521, then sent out a gravitational wave which travelled a distance of 17.2 billion light-years, and was captured by detectors LIGO and VIRGO on May 21, 2019. It has been observed to be the most distant gravitational wave signal so far.

All About Black Holes

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Black holes are formed when massive stars collapse and die. It creates an invisible space in the galaxy. It is packed with huge amounts of matter fused into a relatively small space. With the fasting technology and resources, we have discovered two black holes till now – stellar and supermassive.

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Stellar can weigh up to 100 times that of the Sun while supermassive can have a mass of over one million times the solar mass. Black holes with a mass between 100 to 1 lakh solar mass are termed as Intermediate Mass Black holes. This discovery gives the first direct observation of such black holes in the gravitational wave window.

“Black holes with masses ranging between 65 – 120 solar mass cannot be formed by a collapsing star as massive stars are highly unstable. However, an 85 solar mass black hole in this binary system suggests a newer possibility of black hole formation. For example, black holes merged by several collisions of smaller black holes in a globular cluster or galactic centre,” said Professor Archana Pai from IIT-Bombay. He is also the leading scientist involved in the discovery.

What is the significance?

The first discovery by LIGO was in 2016, a black hole collision that happened at a distance of 1.6 billion light-years away. It makes this collision has been detected at the farthest distance so far.

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