Black holes: flash of light seen from a possible collision

Astronomers say flashes of light were seen for the first time that could have been created by two colliding black holes.

Experts say the findings potentially create a new chapter within astrophysics because the fusion of black holes was not expected to generate light waves.

The gravity associated with black holes is so great that nothing, not even light, usually escapes from them.

Previous observations have shown that when two black holes spiral around each other and finally collide and merge, they generate waves in space and time known as gravitational waves, the phenomena being a direct consequence of Einstein’s theory of gravity.

Read the latest news about the black hole:

In the latest study, published in Physical Review Letters, a merger of black holes was detected by the National Science Foundation (LIGO) Gravitational Wave Observatory with laser interferometer and the European Virgo detector in May 2019.

When the black holes collided with each other, they sent out the expected gravitational waves, however, soon after, the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) Zwicky Transient Facility captured a flash of light that was located in the same area as the gravitational. wave event.

Black Holes: Flash of Light Seen by a Possible Collision (Artist's impression of a supermassive black hole and its surrounding gas disk © Robert Hurt / Caltech / PA)

Artist’s impression of a supermassive black hole and its surrounding gas disk © Robert Hurt / Caltech / PA

Matthew Graham, lead author, research professor of astronomy at Caltech and project scientist at ZTF, said: “This supermassive black hole was bubbling for years before this most abrupt flare.

“The eruption occurred on the correct time scale, and at the correct location, to coincide with the gravitational wave event.

“In our study, we concluded that the eruption is likely the result of a merger of black holes, but we cannot completely rule out other possibilities.”

Read more about great black hole discoveries:

An international team of scientists, including physicists from the University of Edinburgh, participated in the study.

Scientists said supermassive black holes lurk in the center of most galaxies, including ours, the Milky Way.

These central supermassive black holes may be surrounded by a flowing gas disk containing swarms of stars and smaller black holes.

The flow of the gas helps bond the smaller black holes, allowing them to merge, and creates a larger black hole within the disk.

Once created, the new black hole has great speed and is given what scientists described as “a kick” through the gas disk.

Experts said it is the gas’s reaction to the new black hole at high speed that creates a bright light flare, visible with telescopes.

According to scientists, the largest newly formed black hole should cause another light burst in the coming years.

Dr. Nicholas Ross, project collaborator and STFC member Ernest Rutherford at the University of Edinburgh Institute of Astronomy, said: “This result, the resulting optical flash of two black holes colliding and crushing the gas around them, It’s very exciting.

“As a young child, I was hooked on the idea of ​​black holes and now, as a big child, the fact that we have ‘seen’ and ‘heard’ these black hole mergers is a surprising discovery that has profound implications for the astrophysics. “

The research was funded by the National Science Foundation, NASA, the Heising-Simons Foundation and the Growth (Global Relay Observatories that observe transient happen) program.

Q&A Reader: Do Black Holes Collapse?

Asked by: Patricia Rodrigues, King’s Lynn

The Schwarzschild radius (event horizon) of a black hole is sometimes considered the “size” of the black hole. It is proportional to mass, which means that more massive black holes have larger Schwarzschild radii.

Left alone, black holes lose mass due to ‘Hawking radiation’, so their event horizons slowly shrink. A typical black hole would take billions of times the age of the Universe to completely ‘evaporate’ and disappear.

But, the interior of the black hole, or its “singularity” (the point at which all the black hole matter is concentrated) has already reached the limit of its density and can no longer “collapse”.

Read more about black holes: