The Merger Of Two Black Holes With A Significant Difference In Mass Was Recorded For The First Time
The LIGO and VIRGO gravitational wave detectors first recorded the merging of two black holes whose mass differs significantly. One of them is about four times heavier than the other, writes Space.com.
"This is approximately equal to the ratio of the filling in a regular Oreo cookie and Mega Stuf Oreo," astrophysicist from Northwestern University (USA) Christopher berry clearly explained the difference between the objects.
Gravitational waves are vibrations of space-time, the source of which are massive objects that move with varying acceleration. The existence of such waves was predicted by Albert Einstein more than a hundred years ago, but scientists were able to record them only in September 2015.
Detection of gravitational waves is an important confirmation of the General theory of relativity. For this, the LIGO project received the Breakthrough Prize in 2016, and the Nobel prize in physics in 2017. Currently, four detectors are engaged in detecting gravitational waves – two in the United States (they are handled by specialists of the LIGO project), one each in Italy (VIRGO), and Japan (KAGRA).
The most common source of such waves is the merging of two black holes. Previously, astrophysicists recorded that objects of approximately equal mass participated in such events. The gw190412 flash, which the detectors detected on April 12, was out of this series.
This event occurred at a distance of 2.4 billion light-years from the Solar system. Analysis of LIGO and VIRGO data on it showed that this cosmic cataclysm involved two black holes whose mass differed by about four times. One of them was about 8 times heavier than the Sun, and the other was about 30 times heavier.
"We have observed several cases of black hole mergers, but never before has one of them been four times more massive than the other," said Frank Ohm, a LIGO fellow at the Max Planck Society's Institute for gravitational physics. "We have learned that such systems exist. This will allow us to find out how they formed," commented OMA's European colleague, Giancarlo cella from the National Institute of nuclear physics (Italy).
In total, during the third observation period, the detectors detected about 50 sources of gravitational waves. Now scientists continue to analyze them. "This event is a big step in understanding the totality of similar events," concluded Maya Fischbach, an astrophysicist at the University of Chicago, a LIGO fellow.
The LIGO project involves about 1,300 scientists from 100 institutes in various countries. Russia is represented in this group of the physical faculty of MSU named after M. V. Lomonosov and the group of the Institute of applied physics RAS (Nizhny Novgorod). The VIRGO project employs about 350 scientists, engineers, and technicians from 70 institutions in European countries.