Black hole may have swallowed neutron star, astronomers believe | Eurasia Diary -

14 August, Friday

Black hole may have swallowed neutron star, astronomers believe

Vast gravitational waves detected ripping across space

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A black hole may have been detected swallowing a neutron star for the first time ever, astronomers have said.

Vast gravitational waves – which scientists think could have been caused by such a merger – have been seen ripping across space.

Astronomers working on the twin Ligo and Virgo observatories, based in the USand Italy respectively, spotted them.

If proven, it could help understanding of what exactly happens when black holes eat stars, and if the star itself passes through into oblivion intact or is ripped apart during the encounter.

Astronomers across the world are now focusing their observations on the patch of space – some 1.3bn light years away – where it is believed the clash roughly happened in a bid to gather more evidence.

“The universe is keeping us on our toes," Patrick Brady, spokesperson for Ligo and a professor of physics at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, said in a statement. "Unfortunately, the signal is rather weak. It's like listening to somebody whisper a word in a busy café; it can be difficult to make out the word or even to be sure that the person whispered at all. It will take some time to reach a conclusion about this candidate."

Ligo and Virgo were switched on again after a period of upgrades on 1 April.

They work by picking up tiny ripples in the fabric of space that are fired out across the universe when two massive objects collide.

The new detection, on 26 April, came just a day after the system had identified a cataclysmic merger of two neutron stars about 500m light years from earth.

Giovanni Prodi, data analysis coordinator with Virgo and a professor at the University of Trento, described the two incidents as making the period an “incomparable scientific month”.

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