Gravitational waves detected from second pair of colliding black holes

Second gravitational wave event detected in Advanced LIGO data

15 June 2016

On December 26, 2015 at 04:38:53 Dutch time, scientists observed gravitational waves - ripples in the fabric of spacetime - for the second time.

The gravitational waves were detected by both of the twin Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) detectors, located in Livingston, Louisiana, and Hanford, Washington, USA. The LIGO Observatories are funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), and were conceived, built, and are operated by Caltech and MIT. The discovery, accepted for publication in the journal Physical Review Letters, was made by the LIGO Scientific Collaboration (which includes the GEO Collaboration and the Australian Consortium for Interferometric Gravitational Astronomy) and the Virgo Collaboration using data from the two LIGO detectors.

Gravitational waves carry information about their origins and about the nature of gravity that cannot otherwise be obtained, and physicists have concluded that these gravitational waves were produced during the final moments of the merger of two black holes—14 and 8 times the mass of the sun—to produce a single, more massive spinning black hole that is 21 times the mass of the sun.

“It’s fantastic that we have already observed two powerful mergers within a few months. These black holes are much less massive than those observed in the first detection,” says Jo van den Brand, leader of the gravitational physics group at Nikhef and Professor of Subatomic Physics at VU University Amsterdam. “It is a promising start to mapping the population of black holes in our universe.”

About Nikhef

The National institute for subatomic physics (Nikhef) researches particle and astroparticle physics. Nikhef is a cooperation between NWO-divison FOM and five Dutch universities: VU Amsterdam, Radboud University, the University of Amsterdam, Utrecht University and Groningen University.

Source: NWO