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Black Hole Mergers Might Actually Make Gamma-Ray Bursts, After All

9 Feb 2018, 15:01 UTC
Black Hole Mergers Might Actually Make Gamma-Ray Bursts, After All
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Computer simulation of two merging black holes producing gravitational waves. If the latest data analysis from NASA’s Fermi is correct, it might not simply be gravitational waves that are produced. Image credit: Werner Benger.It isn’t just for merging neutron stars, anymore.Over the past three years, there’s arguably been no greater scientific discovery than the direct detection of gravitational waves. The two LIGO detectors, in Hanford, WA, and Livingston, LA, were joined last year by the Virgo detector in Italy. Combined, the three detectors can localize gravitational wave sources to unprecedented precision, with detections in August pinpointed to just a few square degrees on the sky. The discovery of an electromagnetic counterpart to the first neutron star-neutron star merger was exciting and wholly expected, revealing that they do, indeed, create gamma-ray bursts. We’ve also, by this point, seen five black hole-black hole mergers, which shouldn’t have an electromagnetic counterpart, according to conventional theory. But the most massive black hole-black hole pair that merged, coincidentally the very first one ever detected, may have had a gamma-ray counterpart. According to a revised analysis by the NASA Fermi team, we may be in for a cosmic revolution.The five black hole-black hole mergers discovered by ...

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