Scientists announced in a recent study that humanity will bear witness to one of the most powerful and rare events in the Universe. Two supermassive black holes will collide with a force that will send ripples of gravitational waves throughout the cosmos.
For the study, researchers used existing data to predict the imminent merger will occur within ten years.
Supermassive black holes are generally located at the centers of galaxies and are said to be millions or even billions of times the mass of our sun. Even our own galaxy, the Milky Way, is host to a number of supermassive black holes.
Once they merge, the exotic behemoths will generate gravitational waves more powerful than anything else picked up so far. The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) was the first instrument to pick up gravitational waves in 2016. Researchers of the study predict the upcoming merger will be on a bigger scale. More so, this time we will actually see how two supermassive black holes create this phenomenon.
For the calculations, researchers of the study used actual data from the LIGO instead of simulation techniques.
Chiara Mingarelli, a researcher at the Centre for Computational Astrophysics at the Flatiron Institute in New York, and lead author of the study says that this event will be more powerful than any black hole mergers found by LIGO in the past. She also stresses the importance of the event as it will provide scientists with additional information about the development of black holes and massive galaxies.
Gravitational waves are currently detected and monitored by LIGO and the Virgo Interferometer.
Researchers believe that gravitational wave detection will instead use the unique ability of pulsar stars, which act as a mapping technique. Pulsars are rapidly spinning stars that emit a steady rhythm of radio wave pulses, Once a gravitational wave is generated from a black hole merger, it stretches and compresses space, something that affects the rhythm of a pulsar and allows Earth instruments to pick up the variations.
The study was published in the journal, Nature Astronomy.
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