(ORDO NEWS) — Black hole mergers remain one of the most mysterious events. What adds to their charm is the fact that, when viewed from the side, it seems as if the orbits of these bodies do not allow them to merge together.
Mergers of black holes are mysterious, especially if their mass exceeds the maximum allowed. But all mysteries have a logical explanation.
Black holes are one of the most fascinating objects in the universe, but our knowledge of them is still limited. Largely because they do not emit any light.
Until a few years ago, light was our main source of knowledge about the universe and its black holes, until the Laser Interferometric Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO) in 2015 for the first time made it possible to observe gravitational waves from the merger of two black holes.
But how and where in our universe do such black holes form and merge? Does this happen when nearby stars collapse and turn into black holes, is it due to mergers of stars in clusters, or is it something else?
These are some of the key questions in the new era of gravitational wave astrophysics that scientists do not yet know the answer to. However, the answer to some of them may already be pretty close.
Strange merger of black holes
In 2019, when the LIGO and Virgo observatories recorded the event GW190521. It represented the merger of two black holes that were not only heavier than previously thought possible, but also created a flash of light.
Since then, possible explanations for these two oddities have been put forward, but gravitational waves have also revealed a third surprising feature of this event, namely that the black holes were not orbiting each other in a circle before the merger.
Astrophysicists still don’t exactly know much about this event, but they do have a hunch about the shape of the orbit of these two objects. According to scientists, GW190521 could be a merger of three rather than two black holes.
The fact is that this event occurred in a region with a high density of such objects. And so it is likely that the merger was not a collision of two black holes, but the merger of a pair of these objects with a third.
Simulations conducted by the researchers confirmed this conjecture. This fact can also explain the huge mass of objects – after all, in fact there were three of them, not two, which means that the mass of each must fit into the range allowed by physical laws.
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