The most massive black hole collision ever recorded
The unusual ripples of space-time, known as gravitational waves, can be detected only with the help of supersensitive detectors. However, these subtle vibrations are echoes of events of truly colossal proportions. It was thanks to gravitational waves that an amazing discovery was made: astronomers announced the discovery of the most massive collision of black holes in the entire history of space exploration!
Surprisingly, this disaster was far from the only one. Scientists also talked about finding three similar black hole collisions, bringing the total number of known mergers of these incredibly dense regions of space to 10. The discovery was announced at a scientific meeting in Maryland, where researchers gathered to share the results of recent work on gravitational waves . Such waves usually cause two objects interacting with each other. Of course, the strongest waves are generated precisely by collisions of black holes - or other objects close in density, for example neutron stars.
Four new additions to the small but very important catalog of black hole collisions were made between July and August 2017. The very first and most massive collision was discovered on July 29. At a distance of 5 billion light-years from Earth, two black holes merged, forming a single area of space about 80 times the size of the Sun. Gravitational waves travel at the speed of light, so that we observe events of incredible antiquity - it happened hundreds of millions of years before the Solar System appeared. The confluence of two huge black holes was so powerful that the mass equivalent of the five Suns was turned into gravitational waves that passed through a colossal distance and eventually reached the Earth.
The discoveries were made thanks to two high-precision gravitational wave detectors: these are LIGO in the USA and VIRGO in Europe. In fact, the discovery was made much earlier, but during operation, the detectors collect huge amounts of information, and deciphering the data took a lot of time from scientists. The researchers found the signals by sorting and re-analyzing the results of all the observations collected by the device during the last session.