At the Gravitational Waves Physics and Astronomy Workshop, at the University of Maryland in the United States, a team of astronomers announced the detection of four new gravitational waves, raising the total to 11 since the first gravitational wave had been identified in 2015. One of them was particularly interesting since it was generated by the most powerful black holes collision ever detected by scientists.
In October, the article “Exclusive: Grave doubts over LIGO’s discovery of gravitational waves” appeared in the New Scientist journal. The paper suggested that the initial observation of the powerful black holes collision was nothing else than an illusion. However, a recent study confirmed the initial findings.
In reality, analyzing gravitational waves is pretty much like acoustic ornithology, a procedure to count up the number of birds in a forest by listening to their calls. The loudness of the signal tells you how far the source is located, while in the case the sound is faint and blends with the background noise, scientists might be uncertain about it.
Powerful Black Holes Collision Detected By Astronomers
In gravitational waves study, scientists need to be very rigorous in their analysis to be sure that they detected the correct signal and not a false-positive one. The astronomers can only rely on two LIGO detectors in the US and another one in Italy named Virgo. After detecting a signal that indicates for gravitational waves, scientists need to thoroughly examine it to be sure they’re not on a false-positive signal.
As for the powerful black holes collision the astronomers detected, the initial signal of the gravitational waves generated by the merger was loud and matched the template. It was such a perfect signal that scientists thought it was a prank pulled off by a hacker.
Eventually, they figured out that a powerful black holes collision was the source of the gravitational waves they detected. Even though the before-mentioned article in the New Scientist journal suggested that it might’ve been a false-positive, more recent studies confirmed the origins of the signal – the most powerful black holes collision that astronomers have detected to date.
With over seven years of experience in online journalism, Vadim is passionate about everything related to science and the environment. For us, he will thus cover climate, environment, and science news, among others.