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LIGO-Virgo’s New Find Shakes Things Up

23 Jun 2020, 16:00 UTC
LIGO-Virgo’s New Find Shakes Things Up
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Neutron star or black hole? That’s the question scientists are asking about the latest gravitational-wave detection announced from the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) and its sister observatory, Virgo. In a new publication, scientists detail this newest addition to the list of confirmed collisions — and explain why it’s rather unexpected.
Artist’s impression of two merging neutron stars. [National Science Foundation/LIGO/Sonoma State University/A. Simonnet]
Still More from O3
Things have been decidedly quiet on the LIGO-Virgo front lately. The gravitational-wave detectors’ third observing run, O3, wrapped up in March (cut unfortunately short due to COVID-19). Since then, the collaboration has announced only two discoveries from this run: another binary neutron star merger, and the collision of two black holes of very unequal masses.
Yet there remain many dozens of potential candidates recorded during O3 that are still undergoing analysis to confirm whether they’re “true” detections — and, if they are, to identify the properties and astrophysical implications of the mergers.
Despite GW190814’s relatively small sky localization (shown here), no associated electromagnetic signature was found — but we also wouldn’t expect one from such an unequal-mass binary, as the secondary would likely have been swallowed whole. [Abbott et al. 2020]Today, another ...

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