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Scientists Detected 2 Black Hole Mergers Just 21 Mins Apart, But It's Not What We Hoped



Last Wednesday, a gravitational wave detection gave astronomers quite the surprise. Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO), a pair of gravitational waves rolled in just minutes apart.

The first, labeled S190828j, which was picked up by LIGO's gravitational wave detectors at 06:34 am, coordinated universal time. The second, S190828l, which was measured at 06:55 – a mere 21 minutes later.

Both seem to be squealing together.

In fact, this is just the second time two detections have rolled in on the same day.

"This is a genuine" Uh, wait, what ?; We've never seen that before … "moment in gravitational wave astronomy," astrophysicist Robert Routledge from McGill University later tweeted after openly speculating that it might not be a mere coincidence.

Nobody can blame Routledge for getting excited.

One of the things that happened was S190828j and S190828l were actually the same wave, divided by some sort of distortion in space before being roughly thrown together again. This would have been huge .

Gravitational lensing – the warping effect on intervening mass has on space, as described by general relativity – can divide and duplicate the rays of light from far-off objects.

If this had indeed been a two-for-one deal, it would have been a gravitational wave.

Alas, it's now looking pretty unlikely. As the hours passed, new details emerged.


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