What happens when a neutron star collides with a black hole ? Image Credit: NASA / Swift / Dana Berry
Astrophysicists have detected the gravitational waves produced by a black hole colliding with a neutron star.
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.
By analyzing gravitational waves picked up by the twin Ligo detectors in the US and the Virgo detector in Italy, scientists can learn a great deal about astronomical events occurring far out in the universe.
In this particular instance, the detectors have picked up what is thought to be the gravitational waves produced by the merging of a black hole and a neutron star - a type of tiny, ultra-dense star left behind after a particularly large star explodes as a supernova.
If the discovery can be confirmed, the findings could teach us much about the physics of such dramatic mergers as well as confirm that black holes and neutron stars can co-exist in binary systems.
To this end, astronomers are now scouring a particular region of the sky for the light produced by the merger, however with such a large area to cover it is proving to be no easy task.
"It's like listening to somebody whisper a word in a busy cafe, it can be difficult to make out the word or even to be sure that the person whispered at all," Ligo spokesman Patrick Brady said of the findings.
"It will take some time to reach a conclusion about this candidate."
Source: The Guardian | Comments (2)
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