LIGO detects gravitational waves for third time

More than a year after detecting the first confirmed gravitational waves researchers were busy at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory in Livingston La. upgrading the massive instrument. Discover

The newfound black hole, formed by the merger, has a mass about 49 times that of our sun. As was the case with the first two detections, the waves-ripples in spacetime-were generated when two black holes collided to form a larger black hole.

A third gravitational wave has been detected by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) after the merging of two black holes galaxy three billion light-years away, scientists say.

"It is remarkable that humans can put together a story, and test it, for such unusual and extreme events that took place a billion years ago and a billion light-years distant from us", he said.

"It is remarkable that humans can put together a story, and test it, for such unusual and extreme events that took place billions of years ago and billions of light-years distant from us", said senior LIGO research scientist David Shoemaker of MIT.

The detection came about a month into an observation run that began on 30 November, following a almost year-long shutdown of the detectors for maintenance and sensitivity upgrades - although the improvements that followed the upgrades were less dramatic than the team had hoped.

"The black holes now being discovered by LIGO are heavier than any stellar mass-scale black holes from research preceding the LIGO observations", Frey said. Its observations are carried out by twin detectors in the United States of America - one in Hanford, Washington, and the other in Livingston, Louisiana. The second detection was made in December 2015, and the third detection, called GW170104, was made on January 4, 2017.

The discovery was detailed in a paper accepted by the journal Physical Review Letters.

The LIGO detector in Louisiana is one of two identical gravitational wave detectors. The recent detection appears to be the farthest yet, with the black holes located about 3 billion light-years away. "Different teams have made different predictions for black hole spins".

Interestingly, the observations in this case also indicated that the black-hole spins around their axes may have been tilted with respect to one another, rather than being aligned. Taken together, these observations form the first samples of a black hole census with far-reaching implications. They smashed together to create a bigger black hole, about 48.7 times as massive as the sun.

Animation of the inspiral and collision of two black holes consistent with the masses and spins of GW170104.

The Ligo is made up of two identical detectors, called interferometers, carefully constructed to detect tiny vibrations from passing gravitational waves that cause minute changes in the lengths of its pipes.

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Moving forward, LIGO should be able to detect more and more of these black hole mergers.

As with the earlier detections, the new event (GW170104) showed up as a series of curves that came to briefly dominate the noise in LIGO's two detectors for a few seconds before fading back into the background.

Stuart Shapiro, who works on computer simulations of gravitational waves at the University of IL at Urbana-Champaign, agrees.

The collision was so violent that some of the black holes' mass, equivalent to twice the weight of the sun, was converted directly into energy in accordance with Einstein's E=mc formula.

In the other model, massive black holes court each other in huge swarms of stars known as globular clusters. For the first time, researchers at the University of Toronto led the effort to characterize the properties of the colliding black holes - a task that rotates between participating teams in the collaboration in two-week shifts during the experiment's round-the-clock monitoring of the heavens. If they formed independently, the black holes can spin in any direction relative to the overall orbital motion. It could mean that the holes are forming in dense stellar clusters, but more information is necessary to determine whether or not they definitely are. Those facilities will not only boost the capability to detect gravitational waves, but also help scientists pinpoint the source of outbursts more precisely.

Binary black holes. As in pairs, or partners.

The discoveries from LIGO are once again putting Albert Einstein's theories to the test.

Yet another aspect of the observation is that it yields support to Einstein's General Theory of Relativity. Nevertheless, he says, Einstein's theory of general relativity predicts that space can expand, contract, or vibrate, thereby distorting the medium in which we all live.

In the meantime, LIGO is set to wrap up its current observing run in late summer - right around the time that the European Virgo detector is set to go online. They also are working on technical upgrades for LIGO's next run, scheduled to begin in late 2018, during which the detectors' sensitivity will be improved.

"It is remarkable that humans can put together a story, and test it, for such unusual and extreme events that took place billions of years ago and billions of light-years distant from us", said David Shoemaker, spokesman for the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) Scientific Collaboration. Further, the LIGO team hopes that the better sensitivity will open up the observational menu well beyond the sphere of black-hole mergers, to include events such as the merger of binary neutron stars.


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