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Spacetime ripples from black holes are becoming routine.
For a fifth time, scientists have reported the detection of two colliding black holes via their gravitational waves, tiny vibrations that warp the fabric of spacetime. Unlike previous gravitational wave detections, which were heralded with news conferences often featuring panels of scientists squinting at journalists under bright lights, this was a low-key announcement. The event, caught on June 8, 2017, by the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, LIGO, was unceremoniously unveiled in a paper published online November 15 at arXiv.org.
With masses 7 and 12 times that of the sun, the pair of black holes was the lightest LIGO has spotted so far. The lack of fanfare over the detection signals a shift. Scientists are now aiming to collect data from many black hole crashes. That data can be analyzed to answer questions about the population as a whole, such as how two black holes get paired up in the first place.