Spacetime vibrations arrive from black hole collision 3 billion light-years away
Aurore Simonnet/Sonoma State, MIT, Caltech, LIGO
For a third time, scientists have detected the infinitesimal reverberations of spacetime: gravitational waves.
Two black holes stirred up the spacetime wiggles, orbiting one another and spiraling inward until they fused into one jumbo black hole with a mass about 49 times that of the sun. Ripples from that union, which took place about 3 billion light-years from Earth, zoomed across the cosmos at the speed of light, eventually reaching the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, LIGO, which detected them on January 4.
“These are the most powerful astronomical events witnessed by human beings,” Michael Landry, head of LIGO’s Hanford, Wash., observatory, said during a news conference May 31 announcing the discovery. As the black holes merged, they converted about two suns’ worth of mass into energy, radiated as gravitational waves.
Story continues after graphic