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LIGO detects a second merger of black holes

15 Jun 2016, 18:11 UTC
LIGO detects a second merger of black holes
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There’s additional news from LIGO (the Laser Interferometry Gravitational Observatory) about gravitational waves today. What was a giant discovery just a few months ago will soon become almost routine… but for now it is still very exciting…
LIGO got a Christmas (US) present: Dec 25th/26th 2015, two more black holes were detected coalescing 1.4 billion light years away — changing the length of LIGO’s arms by 300 parts in a trillion trillion, even less than the first merger observed in September. The black holes had 14 solar masses and 8 solar masses, and merged into a black hole with 21 solar masses, emitting 1 solar mass of energy in gravitational waves. In contrast to the September event, which was short and showed just a few orbits before the merger, in this event nearly 30 orbits over a full second are observed, making more information available to scientists about the black holes, the merger, and general relativity. (Apparently one of the incoming black holes was spinning with at least 20% of the maximum possible rotation rate for a black hole.)
The signal is not so “bright” as the first one, so it cannot be seen by eye if you just look ...

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