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Two black holes merged billions of years ago

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    Science & Technology
  • Published
    5th Sep, 2020
  • Billions of years ago, a collision between two black holes sent gravitational waves rippling through the universe.
  • The signal detected at LIGO and Virgo resembled “about four short wiggles” and lasted less than one-tenth of a second.
  • Analysis suggested that GW190521 had most likely been generated by a merger of two black holes.
  • It was calculated to have come from roughly 17 billion light years away, and from a time when the universe was about half its age.
  • In the merger leading to the GW190521 signal, the larger black hole was of 85 solar masses.
  • It is the first “intermediate mass” black hole ever observed.
  • Merger creates a new black hole of about 142 solar masses. Energy equivalent to eight solar masses was released in the form of gravitational waves, leading to the strongest ever wave detected.
  • Gravitational waves are invisible ripples that form when a star explodes in a supernova; when two big stars orbit each other; and when two black holes merge.
  • Travelling at the speed of light, gravitational waves squeeze and stretch anything in their path.
  • Gravitational waves were proposed by Albert Einstein in his General Theory of Relativity over a century ago.

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