For the first time ever, scientists may have had the chance to witness various violent space collisions, including one between a neutron star and a black hole, another between two neutron stars and a merger of three potential black holes.
The news was reported when three gravitational wave detectors — two in the United States and one in Italy — caught the gravitational ripples. Collisions involving Neutron Stars often release gravitational waves, which can be termed as ripples in Space and Time.
The first wave was spotted on February 16, 2016, and the collision of the neutron stars was observed in 2017. It happened 130 light years away. The collision involving neutron stars are super interesting as they thought to be the remnants of Supernovas. Even though a neutron star’s size maybe small — as large as a city — but the mass they hold is very dense — think of it as the mass of the Sun compressed into a city’s size. Now just imagine the collision of such dense objects.
On 25 April, a second gravitational wave involving neutron stars was detected. The data suggested a merger of the neutron stars. The event was called S190425z, and happened some 370 million — 640 million light years from Earth.
Again on 26 April, the third gravitation signal was captured, this time the data was different and indicated a violent collision between a black hole and a neutron star, something that has not been observed before — a rare event. But, as the collision happened some 1.6 billion light years away, it could also be just another collision between two neutron stars.
Patrick Brady, spokesperson for LIGO Scientific Collaboration and physics professor at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, said that they were especially curious about the third event, but it happened so far away that analysing it is listening to a whisper in a busy café.
Other than this, the joining of forces in terms of Gravitational detectors involving Twin LIGO in the States and Virgo in Italy, have provided evidence that suggests around 13 black hole mergers, two neutron star collision and also a collision between a neutron star and a black. This data is something that one can never achieve alone.
Giovanni Prodi, Virgo data analysis co-ordinator, said “The joining of forces between the Virgo and the LIGO has lead to a recipe of an incomparable scientific month, and the current observations will run for eleven more months.”
“LIGO-Virgo run is proving to be the most exciting and in a three years period, we’ll have observed every neutron star and black hole collision”, said David H. Reitze, executive director of LIGO.