Black hole pair born inside a dying star?

December 19, 2017, Kyoto University
Snapshot of gravitational waves propagating from binary black holes merging inside of a star. Credit: Kyoto University, Joseph M. Fedrow

Far from earth, two black holes orbit around each other, propagating waves that bend time and space. The existence of such waves—gravitational waves—was first predicted by Albert Einstein over a century ago on the basis of his Theory of General Relativity. And as always, Einstein was right.

But it took until 2015 for the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory to detect gravitational waves for the first time, findings that earned the LIGO team the Nobel Prize in physics two years later. In addition to the shockwave this discovery sent across the scientific community, it also gave researchers the new field of gravitational wave astronomy. But as with many discoveries, for every mystery solved, new questions have arisen.

One such new puzzle: how did those gravitational wave-inducing originate? Writing in the journal Physical Review Letters, Joseph Fedrow of Kyoto University's Yukawa Institute for Theoretical Physics—in collaboration with the International Research Unit for Advanced Future Studies—has determined what gravitational waves might look like if two black holes formed inside a massive, collapsing star.

"Although gravitational waves have allowed us to directly detect black holes for the first time, we still don't know the exact origins of these particular black holes," explains Fedrow. "One idea is that these black holes formed during dynamical fragmentation of the inner core of a dying star undergoing ." This, according to Fedrow, could have resulted in two of the fragments becoming black holes and orbiting around each other in the remains of the stellar environment.

To test this proposal, the team used supercomputers and the tools of numerical relativity to create a model of two black holes in such surroundings. And after many long hours of computation, the output was compared against LIGO's observational data. "Our results were measurably different, showing that if black holes formed in a high-density, stellar environment, then the time it takes for them to merge shortens. If the density is lowered to levels more similar to vacuum, then the resulting match those of the event observed."

In addition to shedding light on the dynamics of , these results reaffirm that the first waves detected by LIGO came from black holes in an empty region of space. "In this exciting, new era of gravitational wave astronomy, we don't know what we'll find, or where it will lead us," concludes Fedrow. "But our work here will help to illuminate untrodden paths, and shine a light upon the darkest of objects in the universe."

Explore further: Scientists 'excited' by observations suggesting formation scenarios

More information: Joseph M. Fedrow et al, Gravitational Waves from Binary Black Hole Mergers inside Stars, Physical Review Letters (2017). DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.119.171103

Related Stories

Gravitational waves: Why the fuss?

October 16, 2017

Great excitement rippled through the physics world Monday at news of the first-ever detection of two ultra-dense neutron stars converging in a violent smashup.

Recommended for you

Magnetized inflow accreting to center of Milky Way galaxy

August 17, 2018

Are magnetic fields an important guiding force for gas accreting to a supermassive black hole (SMBH) like the one that our Milky Way galaxy hosts? The role of magnetic fields in gas accretion is little understood, and trying ...

Another way for stellar-mass black holes to grow larger

August 17, 2018

A trio of researchers with The University of Hong Kong, Academia Sinica Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics in Taiwan and Northwestern University in the U.S., has come up with an alternative theory to explain how some ...

First science with ALMA's highest-frequency capabilities

August 17, 2018

The ALMA telescope in Chile has transformed how we see the universe, showing us otherwise invisible parts of the cosmos. This array of incredibly precise antennas studies a comparatively high-frequency sliver of radio light: ...

Six things about Opportunity's recovery efforts

August 17, 2018

NASA's Opportunity rover has been silent since June 10, when a planet-encircling dust storm cut off solar power for the nearly-15-year-old rover. Now that scientists think the global dust storm is "decaying"—meaning more ...

Sprawling galaxy cluster found hiding in plain sight

August 16, 2018

MIT scientists have uncovered a sprawling new galaxy cluster hiding in plain sight. The cluster, which sits a mere 2.4 billion light years from Earth, is made up of hundreds of individual galaxies and surrounds an extremely ...

Hubble paints picture of the evolving universe

August 16, 2018

Astronomers using the ultraviolet vision of NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have captured one of the largest panoramic views of the fire and fury of star birth in the distant universe. The field features approximately 15,000 ...


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

1 / 5 (3) Dec 20, 2017
Again ignorance of the structure of the universe !!
The substance is formed from the substance Aether, which was rejected by science, because this is a big obstacle for inventing the many misconceptions that brought them great wages. The basic and first variant of the matter are electrons and positrons "packed" into the form of gluon, and quarks, from which a quark gluon plasma is formed (MAGNETAR's celestial body).
From this formation, due to the process in the chain of formation of other celestial bodies, there is a superficial expansion of the magnetists, when the Gamma Ray Burst is emitted, which are the quasars, behind them the pulsars (can also be dual stars), only after the formation of neutron stars, and the supernova which, when exploded, follows the chain of the formation of celestial bodies (sun, planets, and the like). What they discovered can be one type of GRB.
1.7 / 5 (6) Dec 20, 2017
........and they know all this must be factual because they have a drawing created by a well known artist, WhyGuy who used two blowtorches to simulate two different stellar bodies of mass.
Da Schneib
3.3 / 5 (3) Dec 20, 2017
@Lenni, you already admitted black holes exist.

Maybe you forgot.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.