The earth is full of gravitational waves.
Scientists recorded a set of 39 gravitational wave sets over a period of six months. The waves that stretch and compress the fabric of spacetime were caused by violent events such as two black holes merging into one.
The transport has been reported by scientists using the LIGO and Virgo experiments in several studies published on October 28 on a collaboration website and on arXiv.org. The addition brings the number of known gravitational wave events to 50.
The plethora of data, which includes sightings from April to October 2019, suggests that scientists’ ability to detect gravitational waves has increased. Prior to this round of searches, only 11 events were detected in the years since the effort began in 2015. Improvements to the detectors – two that make up the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO) in the US and another, Virgo, in Italy – have dramatically increased the rate of gravitational wave sightings.
While colliding black holes created most of the waves, some collisions appear to have involved neutron stars, ultra-dense nuggets of matter that are left behind when stars explode.
Some of the events added to the gravitational wave register were previously reported individually, including the largest black hole collision to date (SN: 02.09.20) and a collision between a black hole and an object that could not be identified as either a neutron star or a black hole (SN: 06/23/20).
In addition, some of the merging black holes appear to be very large and spinning quickly, says astrophysicist Richard O’Shaughnessy of the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York, a member of the LIGO collaboration. That’s something “really compelling about the data that we haven’t seen before,” he says. Such information could help uncover the processes by which black holes work together before they collide (SN: 06/19/16).
Scientists also used the smashups’ smorgasbord to further verify Albert Einstein’s theory of gravity, the general theory of relativity that predicts the existence of gravitational waves. In the test with the new data – surprise, surprise – Einstein emerged as the winner.