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GW151226: Gravitational Waves from a Black Hole Merger

17 Jun 2016, 22:00 UTC
GW151226: Gravitational Waves from a Black Hole Merger
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Figure 1: Artist’s impression of a black hole.Gravitational waves are ripples propagating through the fabric of spacetime. Abbott et al. (2016) present the observation of a gravitational wave signal designated as GW151226. This is the second direct detection of a gravitational wave signal and it was observed by two detectors of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO) on 26 December 2015 at 03:38:53 UTC. The signal has significance greater than 5σ, and it was observable for approximately one second. The gravitational waves first hit the LIGO observatory in Livingston, Louisiana. 1.1 milliseconds later, they passed through the LIGO observatory in Hanford, Washington.GW151226 was produced from the coalescence of two stellar-mass black holes, and the observed gravitational wave signal originated from the final stages of the two black holes spiralling into each other. The primary and secondary black holes have ~14.2 and ~7.5 times the mass of the Sun, respectively. After merger, the final black hole has ~20.8 times the mass of the Sun. The final mass is lower than the sum of the initial masses because approximately one solar-mass was radiated away as pure energy, in the form of gravitational waves. This is because it takes energy to distort ...

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