For the first time, a black hole devouring a neutron star has been discovered.
ASTRONOMERS have observed the shockwaves of a black hole colliding with a neutron star, the collapsing core of a supergiant star, for the first time.
In January 2020, Earth observed vibrations in the fabric of time and space caused by a cosmic head-on collision of cosmic proportions. After capturing the merger’s aftermath using a global network of gravitational wave detectors, an international group of scientists announced the discovery today (June 29). Surprisingly, a second black hole-neutron star collision was discovered only 10 days following the first.
The findings will aid scientists in better understanding how binary systems, which consist of a black hole and a neutron star, form.
The research was published in the Astrophysical Letters publication.
“With these astonishing discoveries, gravitational-wave astronomy has reached yet another milestone,” said Dr Patricia Schmidt of the University of Birminghamâ€TMs Institute for Gravitational Wave Astronomy.
“This is the best evidence we have to date for the occurrence of binaries made up of a neutron star and a black hole, finally closing this observational gap.
“These findings have significant implications for our knowledge of the development of mixed binaries and their possible function as gamma-ray burst sources.”
The discovery is the first direct evidence of this unique astronomical event in the world.
Gravitational wave detectors, which are among the world’s most sensitive sensors, have previously only observed the aftermath of a black hole merging with another black hole or a neutron star merging with another neutron star.
Collisions of celestial bodies, like a pebble thrown in a pond, generate gravitational waves flowing out into space.
The waves then travel infinite lengths through space-time, a phenomena predicted by Albert Einstein in 1916.
However, it wasn’t until late 2015 that the LIGO and Virgo collaborations proved the existence of gravitational waves for the first time, when they discovered the aftermath of two black holes colliding 1.3 billion years ago.
LIGO and Virgo were now in charge of detecting a 900 million light-year collision between two bodies.
The detectors picked up the tail end of a neutron star circling a black hole faster and faster until it collided with the gravitational well.
The Advanced LIGO (ALIGO) detector in the United States, as well as Advanced Virgo, added to the discovery. “Brinkwire News in Condensed Form.”