Swift kick from a supernova could knock a black hole askew | Science News

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Swift kick from a supernova could knock a black hole askew

Gravitational wave detection hints at unexpected power from star explosion

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2:37pm, June 9, 2017
illustration of black holes

TILT THE BALANCE  Black holes that orbit one another can have tilted spins (illustrated here, in an image of the third set of black holes LIGO detected). In LIGO’s second detection, the tilt of one black hole suggests it may have been kicked askew by the stellar explosion that created it.

Gravitational waves are providing new hints about how black holes get their kicks.

The Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory’s detection of spacetime ripples from two merging black holes on December 26, 2015, indicated that one black hole was spinning like a tilted top as it orbited with its companion (SN: 7/9/16, p. 8). That off-kilter spin could mean that the stellar explosion that produced the black hole gave it a strong kick, physicist Richard O'Shaughnessy and colleagues report in a paper in press in Physical Review Letters.

Scientists aren’t sure how black holes like those detected by LIGO pair up (

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