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Did a black hole swallow a neutron star 900 million years ago?

Scientists may have observed something that has never been seen before: a black hole that swallows a neutron star.

About 900 million years ago, a catastrophic cosmic event unleashed a ripple in space-time that went through the earth last week (August 14). Scientists watched the event both at advanced LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory) and at Virgo, LIGO's Italian counterpart. After further investigation and initial speculation, the scientists suspect that this ripple may have been caused by the fusion of a black hole and a neutron star.

Currently, scientists can only confirm that the signal recognized by LIGO and Virgo is a gravitational wave candidate, LIGO team member Christopher Berry, physicist at Northwestern University, told Space.com. Although Berry is reluctant to mark the binary file known as S1

90814bv, scientists still need to confirm which objects may have been merged and how big they are. "According to our initial estimates, this could possibly be a neutron star black hole binary," he said.

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On September 14, 2015, about a hundred years after Albert Einstein predicted their existence, LIGO predicted this made the first one Detection of gravitational waves. Now, just a few years later, scientists are discovering gravitational waves on a regular basis, Berry said. Although this growth in gravitational-wave astronomy is an incredible achievement, it is still very difficult and time-consuming for researchers to determine which binary merging causes the chirp signal recognized by LIGO and Virgo.

discovered binary systems consisting of two black holes and systems of two neutron stars. So far, however, no black hole neutron star system could be detected. In this system, the black hole would eat up the neutron star or even swallow it completely.

Scientists currently view objects in these systems that are up to three times the size of our Sun, neutron stars and objects at least five times the size of our Sun, as black holes. Although scientists have not yet observed a black hole under five solar masses or a neutron star over about two and a half solar masses, they do not know how large the minimum mass of a black hole could be or what the maximum mass of a neutron star could be.

While the smaller object in this most recently discovered binary system is less than three solar masses, it may not be a neutron star. "If you want to bet, neutron star is probably the place where you want to invest your money," Berry said, suggesting that the smaller of the two objects is likely a neutron star. He added, "It's not certain yet, and although I'd say it's likely to be a neutron star, I just want to underline the uncertainty."

There are some ways that LIGO and Virgo might have detected.

The objects could be a neutron star binary; that is, the fiery fusion of two neutron stars, which are the collapsed nuclei of massive stars. It could also be a black hole. If it is a binary black hole, it means that one of the black holes in the system is less than three solar masses, and is the smallest black hole ever seen by far.

It is exciting for scientists to confirm that it is a fusion between a black hole and a neutron star, as it is something no one has ever seen before. Each of these possible outcomes would be an advance in scientific research. By studying these systems, "we can learn a lot about the physics that contribute to the formation of neutron stars and black holes, which is another step to completing our understanding of the evolution and shape of these binary systems," Berry said.

Confirmation Due to the gravitational waves discovered by LIGO and Virgo, scientists will scan the area of ​​the sky where the fusion was likely to occur, and seek to obtain more information about the event. Gravitational wave astronomers can also study slight distortions of the signal detected by LIGO and Virgo, but as Berry mentioned, this method is very difficult.

"The ANU SkyMapper telescope responded to the detection alarm and examined the entire probable area of ​​the room in which the event occurred," said Susan Scott, a professor at the Australian National University Research School of Physics. on efforts to determine which objects were merged. Currently we have not found any visual confirmation.

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