Scientists May Have Detected 'Violent' Black Hole-Neutron Star Collision

LIGO Hanford scientists

Scientists work in the LIGO Hanford control room. More

Scientists think one detection of gravitational waves was produced as the result of the collision and merger of two neutron or collapsed stars.

On April 1, the teams behind the three gravitational wave detectors started them up for a new observational run, the first with all three operating in parallel for the full run.

On April 25, the Virgo detector along with one of the LIGO detectors picked up a signal suggestive of a neutron star merger.

In 2015, LIGO detected gravitational waves created by two black holes for the first time.

And on April 25, for the second time ever, scientists noticed waves that have been appearing from two merging neutron stars. Researchers detected a ripple in space-time that was most likely caused by a collision between two neutron stars. When the star's mass is below three times that of the Sun, it will form a neutron star. Because only two of the three detectors registered the signal, estimates of the location from which it originated were not precise, leaving astronomers to survey almost one quarter of the sky for the source.

Meanwhile, the potential April 26 neutron star-black hole collision (S190426c) is estimated to have occurred approximately 1.2 billion light-years away from Earth.

The suspected event was seen by all three of the LIGO-Virgo detectors, which has enabled researchers to narrow down its location to within 3 per cent of the sky. Now observatories around the world can look towards the source of the collision and hopefully see light waves which match with the detected gravitational waves. Observing such a coalescence might assist uncover the properties of the mysterious, ultradense materials that make up a neutron star or reveal how briskly the universe is increasing.

"The latest LIGO-Virgo observing run is proving to be the most exciting one so far".

If confirmed, the detection by the twin Ligo detectors in the U.S. and the Virgo detector in Italy would be the first evidence that black holes and neutron stars can pair up in binary systems.

In addition to the two new candidates involving neutron stars, the LIGO-Virgo network has, in this latest run, spotted three likely black hole mergers.

The Advanced LIGO experiment involves two detectors 3,000 kilometres apart in the United States, which detect miniscule movements using laser beams running through perpendicular pipes.

When black holes collide, they distort the very fabric of space and time, forming gravitational waves. The observatory already helped scientists observe something extraordinary.

In the case of the two recent neutron star candidates, telescopes around the world once again raced to track the sources and pick up the light expected to arise from these mergers. "The rate of neutron star merger candidates being found with LIGO and Virgo will give more opportunities to search for the explosions over the next year".

It is only in the past few weeks that LIGO and Virgo have taken to announcing the detection of possible gravitational wave signals as they are observed, rather than waiting for the nature of the signals to be confirmed before going public.

Scientists at the LIGO observatory, here in the United States of America and its European counterpart, Virgo. have spotted more gravitation waves involving neutron stars.

"The universe is keeping us on our toes". The only problem at the moment seems to be the fact that the signal is very weak. "It's like listening to somebody whisper a word in a busy cafe, it can be hard to make out the word or even to be sure that the person whispered at all", he said. "It will take some time to reach a conclusion about this". This increases the chances of it spotting previously unseen exotic objects which have been theoretically predicted, such as boson stars or mini black holes. The search is supported by LIGO-Virgo Scientific Collaboration, Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Gravitational Wave Discoveries (OzGrav), UWA Faculty of Science supercomputing facilities, the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre, and the OzStar supercomputing program. "So, so we will have to see how far the data takes us".

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