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Ligo Detector Will Help "Feel" The Limit Of The Mass Of Neutron Stars

Ligo Detector Will Help "Feel" The Limit Of The Mass Of Neutron Stars

The discovery in August 2019 of an object from the so-called "gap" between black holes and neutron stars will accelerate research related to studying the properties of neutron stars and determining their maximum allowable mass, according to Professor David Reitze of the California Institute of Technology, Executive Director of the LIGO Observatory (Laser Interferometric Gravitational-Wave Observatory).

"The result is remarkable in any case, even if the discovered object is the heaviest neutron star or the lightest black hole. Its detection tells us that space objects can exist in a previously unknown mass range. The result is also important from the point of view that gives impetus to our research aimed at determining the limit mass of neutron stars," Reitze said.

This discovery was made by astronomers after re-analyzing data on the gravitational surge GW190814. Previously, scientists considered it the first recorded signal from the merger of a black hole and a neutron star. GW190814 detected the LIGO and VIRGO gravitational wave detectors in August 2019. The source of the burst was located on the border of the constellations of the whale and the Sculptor, at a distance of 770 million light-years from Earth.

A gap in astrophysics

Before that, scientists have already found several hints of such events, but after checking all of them turned out to be false signals, the source of which were random processes on Earth. However, in the case of GW190814, verification confirmed that the cause of this event was indeed two compact objects with different masses.

One of them was a black hole 23 times heavier than the Sun. What the second object is, scientists, do not yet know. It is noticeably heavier than all known neutron stars, so scientists place it in the so-called "gap" or "gap" between black holes and neutron stars.

"By an astrophysical gap, we mean the mass interval of compact massive objects of a certain type that we have not yet encountered," explained Reitze. According to him, scientists are sure that they really found an object in this range of masses, but now it is impossible to say what exactly it is.

Continuing observations on LIGO and the discovery of new objects from the "gap" between black holes and neutron stars, as well as observations of black holes and neutron stars using other observatories, the researcher hopes, will provide an answer to this question. However, this is now hindered by the epidemiological situation.

"We were forced to shut down the LIGO observatories at the end of March, approximately one month before the end of the next observation cycle. The consequences [of the pandemic] were not disastrous for LIGO, but we have not yet resumed normal operation," Reitze concluded.

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