For the third time, gravitational waves were detected by the twin detectors of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) in Louisiana and Washington state of the US on 4 January 2017, the New York Times has reported.
The latest gravitational waves detected were created from the merger of two black holes almost three billion of light-years away. The first and second detections were located about 1.3 and 1.4 billion light-years away.
Although all three detections made by LIGO have been from black hole mergers, each was unique. The first detection came from massive black holes, while the second one came from a smaller ones. The third merger fits in the middle: the two black holes that merged were around 19 and 31 times the mass of the sun.
Astronomers believe the latest detection “provides clues about the directions in which the black holes are spinning”. As pairs of black holes spiral inwards, heading towards a collision, they also spin on their own axes, the general theory says. But the latest detection hints that these spins are misaligned.
“We are moving away from novelty towards where we can seriously say we are developing black-hole astronomy,” said David Shoemaker, a physicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and LIGO Collaboration spokesman.
According to the Guardian, with the third detection, scientists are beginning to move closer to their goal of using gravitational waves as a way of observing ancient. Most of these events would be invisible to optical or radio telescopes. Up until LIGO’s first detection in the year 2015, gravitational waves were the last major unconfirmed part of Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity.
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