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Gravitational Waves After Galaxy Collisions

21 Feb 2020, 17:00 UTC
Gravitational Waves After Galaxy Collisions
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Thanks to the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO), we now know that black holes in our distant universe sometimes find each other in a dramatic inspiral and collision, releasing a burst of gravitational-wave emission that we can detect here on Earth.
But what happened earlier in these black holes’ lives to bring them to this point? A new study explores the possibility that LIGO’s black holes once lay at the centers of very small galaxies — until those galaxies collided.
Simulated image of two merging black holes, viewed face-on. LIGO has announced the detection of ten of these events so far. [SXS Lensing]
Central Lurkers
Since we discovered the first wiggles in spacetime signifying the distant merger of two black holes, LIGO has announced around ten confident detections of gravitational waves from black hole–black hole collisions — with the prospect of many more discoveries in the future.
But how did these black holes find each other? A team of scientists led by Christopher Conselice (University of Nottingham, UK) has proposed a picture that hinges on the central black holes we believe lie at the heart of most, if not all, galaxies.
The team proposes that very low-mass dwarf galaxies contain ...

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