Scientists have once again detected gravitational waves created by the merger of two distant black holes 1.4 billion light years away. It proves that the first detection of ripples in space and time in September last year was no fluke. Gravitational waves were predicted by Albert Einstein about 100 years ago as part of his General Theory of Relativity.
Smaller black holes may be far more common that thought
LIGO detectors in Livingston, Louisiana, and Hanford, Washington snagged the first signal from the collision of two black holes in September, and it was announced in February. The second collision of two relatively smaller black holes was detected in December. It demonstrates the sensitivity of the LIGO facilities that were recently upgraded to collect smaller bursts of gravitational waves.
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The latest discovery suggests that smaller-sized black holes are far more common in the universe than previously thought, said LIGO executive director David Reitze. Findings of the study were published Wednesday in the journal Physical Review Letters. Researchers also presented their study at the 228th meeting of the American Astronomical Society.
The gravitational waves were 1.1 milliseconds apart
Scientists said the two black holes had masses 14 and 8 times that of our sun. They combined to produce a single black hole 21 times more massive than the sun. Masses equal to an entire sun were converted into gravitational waves that passed through the Earth and other parts of the universe. It shows the universe is filled with numerous black holes colliding and merging to give off massive bursts of gravitational waves.
The gravitational pull of massive objects causes the space-time to shake and bend. It causes the distances between various objects to shift, even though we don’t feel it. The December black holes spent more time (about a second) in the sensitive band of LIGO detectors due to their lighter masses. The instruments measured the waves 1.1 milliseconds apart.