Magnetic stars could have created LIGO’s massive black holes | Science News


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Magnetic stars could have created LIGO’s massive black holes

Strong magnetic field prevents mass from fleeing, computer simulations show

6:00am, December 12, 2016
Magnetic stars

ATTRACTIVE PAIR  Magnetic stars (illustrated) could help create massive black holes. This is a visualization of a pair of such stars discovered in 2015. Yellow lines trace the magnetic field, and color shows north (red) and south (blue) magnetic poles.

To create a heavy black hole, it might help to start with a massive magnetic star.

Strong magnetic fields could help stem the flow of gas from a heavyweight star, leaving behind enough material to form hefty black holes, a new study suggests. A pair of such magnetic stars could be responsible for giving birth to the black hole duo that created recently detected gravitational waves, researchers report online December 1 in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

The shake-up in spacetime that was picked up the Advanced Laser Interferometric Gravitational-Wave Observatory, or LIGO, in 2015 came from a collision between two black holes weighing about 29 and 36 times the mass of the sun (SN: 3/5/16, p. 6). Such plump black holes were surprising. The

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