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.
Non -scientists – this is a genuine "Uh, wait, what? We've never seen that before ……." moment in gravitational wave astronomy. If you'd like to see double-checks and confirmations and conclusions – pay attention, in real time. Happening now.
– Robert Rutledge (@rerutled) August 28, 2019
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.
If this was a lensing event, you would expect it to be more or less right on top of each other. pic.twitter.com/lqvigNhyBl
– Robert McNees (@mcnees) August 28, 2019  So close, and yet so far.
To look at the bright side, we now live in an age where the detection of the crash-boom of galactic giants is not a rare event, but rather at endless peel of thunder we can record and measure at an insane level of accuracy. It's hard to believe the first collision was detected only a few years ago.
Scientists face a problem in the wake of freaky events like this one. Barely half baked.
On the one hand, in a public space, it transforms into an indestructible fact. re scanning a near-infinite amount of sky for clues, too.
This is what scientists do best – stumble across odd events, throw out ideas, and debate which ones deserve to
If there's more to S190828j and S190828l than meets the eye, we'll let you know. For now, there's no earth-shaking discovery, while still being amazed that we have the technology to discover it all.
We really ought to celebrate the 'disappointments' a little more often.