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Has LIGO Just Detected The ‘Trifecta’ Signal That All Astronomers Have Been Hoping For?

6 Aug 2019, 14:01 UTC
Has LIGO Just Detected The ‘Trifecta’ Signal That All Astronomers Have Been Hoping For? NSF, LIGO, Sonoma State University and A. Simonnet

When it comes to cataclysmic events in the Universe — wherever large-magnitude astrophysical interactions cause an enormous release of energy — our understanding of the laws of physics tells us that there are three possible ways to detect and measure them. The first is the most familiar: through light, or electromagnetic waves. The second is through the arrival of particles: like cosmic rays or energetic neutrinos. And the third, which first came to fruition just under four years ago, is from the detection of gravitational waves.

Since gravitational wave detection first occurred, astronomers have been hoping for the ultimate event: a signal that would be identifiable and detectable via all three methods. It’s never been observed before, but ever since LIGO started its latest data-taking run in April, it’s been the not-so-secret hope of astronomers of all types. With a new candidate event observed on Sunday, July 28, 2019, we might have just hit the jackpot.

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