ASU Nexus for Exoplanet System Science

LIGO and Virgo detected gravitational waves from a binary black hole merger

Image credit: LIGO/Virgo/Caltech/MIT/Leo Singer (Milky Way image: Axel Mellinger)

Laser Interferometry Gravitational-Wave Observatory is funded by National Science Foundation and has two detectors located in Livingston, Louisiana and Hanford, Washington. Virgo detector has a network of three gravitational-wave detectors located near Pisa, Italy. Both observatories are located thousands of miles apart and have recorded observations from the same event. LIGO and Virgo detectors, detected a gravitational-wave signal resulting from coalescence of two black holes. This was the first gravitational-wave signal detection by Virgo just after two weeks of being in operation. This detection was made on August 14, 2017 at 10:30:43 UTC. A paper known as GW170814, regarding this event has been accepted for publication by the Physical Review Letters. The merger consisted of two black holes of masses about 31 and 25 Solar Masses and at a distance of 1.8 billion light-years away from us. The coalescence of these black holes created gravitation-waves which are in other words ripples in the space and time, resulting into formation of a single black hole of about 53 Solar Masses. This tells us that about 3 Solar Masses were converted into gravitational-wave energy. LIGO and VIRGO’s partner electromagnetic facilities did not observe a light counterpart suggesting that Back Holes create gravitational-waves but not light.

Virgo detectors network of three-detector gravitational-wave detectors adds accuracy to such observations. Joint effort of both LIGO corporation and Virgo corporation shall render the astrophysical community with exciting and highly precise discoveries of gravitational-waves in the future.

To learn more about this event, click here to access the paper GW170814.

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