Researchers just announced the discovery of the most massive remote black hole collision ever observed. Exciting was the great cosmic crash not alone. At the same time, the discovery of three more black hole collisions was announced, increasing the total number of observed mergers of these incredibly dense space to 10.
The findings were announced on a weekend at a scientific meeting in Maryland, where the researchers gathered to talk about the latest research into gravitational waves. Gravitational waves are waves in space-time, which are usually caused by two objects rotating around each other. The strongest gravitational waves are caused by the collision of black holes or very dense objects, the so-called neutron stars.
The four most recent additions to the small but powerful catalog of gravitational wave makers were all watched between July and August 201
Scientists, including Albert Einstein, first proposed the idea of gravitational waves at the beginning of the 20th century, but were unable to prove their existence until 2015. Researchers have to use huge observatories to detect gravitational waves. Currently, there are only a few of these detectors on Earth. Recent discoveries have been made by two detectors in the United States, LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory) and one in Europe known as Virgo. We are just hearing about these four collisions, since until recently they were buried in the data collected by the detectors. The researchers found the signals by sorting and re-analyzing all the observations the researchers had collected during the last observation run.
LIGO and Virgo have been making important discoveries since Virgo in August 2017, including the observation of colliding neutron stars announced last October. "In just one year, LIGO and VIRGO working together have dramatically advanced the science of gravitational waves, and the detection rate suggests that the most spectacular results are yet to come," said Denise Caldwell, director of the Physical Division of the National Science Foundation.
LIGO and Virgo have not made any observations since August 2017. In downtime, researchers and engineers have been busy watching the detectors in preparation for the next round and updating observations. LIGO's third observation run is scheduled for early 2019, and Virgo is expected to return to fun with newly updated instruments.
Astrophysicists expect much more collisions on the next observation run, but they are also looking forward to getting new equipment over the next few decades. The European Space Agency and NASA are working together on a space observatory called Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA). LISA consists of three spacecraft located millions of miles apart. Because of its size and position in space, it can detect gravitational waves that are not possible on Earth-based detectors. This summer, China also announced plans to build two space-based gravitational wave detectors.
All these activities mean that these latest discoveries are just the beginning. The market introduction of LISA is planned only in the 2030s. However, researchers are already expecting the next generation of detectors. Australian physicist David Blair wrote about the latest discoveries in The Conversation : "We expect a tenfold sensitivity with planned new detectors. Then we expect new signals about every five minutes. "