The black holes are 3 billion light years away. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 4.0 Simulating eXtreme Spacetimes
Astronomers have picked up the gravitational waves produced by the merging of two distant black holes.
Originally proposed by Albert Einstein as a consequence of his General Theory of Relativity, gravitational waves are ripples in the fabric of space-time that carry energy across the universe.
After years of struggling to pick up direct evidence of the phenomenon, a team of researchers at the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) finally succeeded in detecting gravitational waves for the first time back in February 2016.
Their results were then confirmed when gravitational waves were detected a second time in June.
Now, twelve months later, the team has revealed that they have picked up the phenomenon yet again, this time emanating from two black holes that are in the process of merging together.
"The first one was a novelty," said LIGO spokesperson David Shoemaker. "The second one was confirmation that the novelty of the first one was not a fluke. The third one is astrophysics."
"We're making the transition to talking about a population of these objects."