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Why Were Seeing More Gravitational Wave Events Than Ever Before

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 Astronomy   |   Physics   |   Science
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LIGO and Virgo recently updated their gravitational-wave catalog with 39 new discoveries, including signals that could help us probe unresolved mysteries about the universe further than ever before.
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On May 21, 2019, LIGO and Virgo detected gravitational waves generated by two huge black holes, one at around 66 solar masses and the other at a gigantic 85 solar masses. They combined to form a black hole with a mass around 142 times that of our sun, making it the first ever directly observed intermediate black hole.

It exists in the size range between stellar mass black holes that form when stars collapse and the supermassive black holes found at the center of galaxies. Even the existence of the 85 solar mass black hole is interesting, because scientists think there should be a gap in the spectrum of black holes between 65 and 120 solar masses. A phenomenon called pair-instability should prevent stars from collapsing and forming black holes in this range, so that 85 solar mass black hole could call our understanding of stellar evolution into question.

These 39 new gravitational wave events certainly give us a lot to ponder, but remember thats just from the first half of observing run 3. Unfortunately, the second half had to be cut a month short because of COVID-19, but with observing runs 4 and 5 still planned for some time in the near future, and the inclusion of data from detectors in Japan and India, expect to see a lot more interesting discoveries from the laser interferometers of the world.

#universe #blackholes #gravitationalwaves #science #seeker #elements

Read More:

LIGO and Virgo announce new detections in updated gravitational-wave catalog
https://www.lsu.edu/physics/news/2020/ligo_new_detections.php
"The sharp increase in the number of detections was made possible by significant improvements to the instruments with respect to previous observation periods. These included increased laser power, improved mirrors and, remarkably, the use of quantum squeezing technology."

Big Black Holes Dominate New Gravitational-Wave Catalog
https://skyandtelescope.org/astronomy-news/big-black-holes-dominate-new-gravitational-wave-catalog/
"Whats really eye-catching about the new catalog is just how many of the black holes are big. More than half of the mergers involved at least one black hole weighing 30 solar masses or more."

When Virgo Joined LIGO
https://www.npl.washington.edu/AV/altvw193.html
"Quantum field theory, our present standard theory of relativistic quantum mechanics, has many triumphs. However, it not only gets the energy density of empty space wrong by a factor of 10120, but it also is plagued by some embarrassing infinities that crop up when parts of the formalism are closely examined."
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