The two black holes that marked the first discovery of gravitational waves have more secrets to share.
In an amazing find that could expand our understanding of the universe itself, scientists have discovered something very interesting about where those two black holes that created gravitational waves came from.
Back in September, scientists using the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) detected gravitational waves from two black holes, one of them 29 times more massive than our sun, the other 36 times more massive. But something else happened that intrigued scientists — a burst of gamma rays from an event that is supposed to be entirely dark, leading scientists to wonder: did this black hole merger happen within a gigantic star?
That’s what new research is suggesting, and scientists are saying that this single star gave birth to these black holes, which died and led to the merger of the black holes, according to a Phys.org report.
Harvard astrophysicist Avi Loeb compared it to a pregnant woman carrying twins in her belly. As scientists currently understand it, the core of a star collapses into a single black hole when it dies — but if the star was spinning extremely rapidly, scientists surmise the core might stretch into more of a dumbbell shape and then split, forming two separate black holes.
If true, this would have required a truly massive star, one that would have need to have formed from two smaller stars merging, and the spinning of those two stars around each other before merging would have caused the eventual large star to spin quite rapidly, forming a black hole pair. When this happened, the outer envelope of the star would collapse inward. All of this — the birth of the black holes to their eventual merger — would have had to have happened within the star and within minutes.