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Scientists Detect Tones in the Ringing of a Newborn Black Hole for the First Time

15 Sep 2019, 10:18 UTC
Scientists Detect Tones in the Ringing of a Newborn Black Hole for the First Time
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If Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity holds true, then a black hole, born from the cosmically quaking collisions of two massive black holes, should itself “ring” in the aftermath, producing gravitational waves much like a struck bell reverbates sound waves. Einstein predicted that the particular pitch and decay of these gravitational waves should be a direct signature of the newly formed black hole’s mass and spin.Now, physicists from MIT and elsewhere have studied the ringing of an infant black hole, and found that the pattern of this ringing does, in fact, predict the black hole’s mass and spin — more evidence that Einstein was right all along.The findings, published today in Physical Review Letters, also favor the idea that black holes lack any sort of “hair” — a metaphor referring to the idea that black holes, according to Einstein’s theory, should exhibit just three observable properties: mass, spin, and electric charge. All other characteristics, which the physicist John Wheeler termed “hair,” should be swallowed up by the black hole itself, and would therefore be unobservable.The team’s findings today support the idea that black holes are, in fact, hairless. The researchers were able to identify the pattern of a black ...

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