Earth rattled by the theoretically-defined biggest bang since humanity

Srushti Kulkarni 8th September, 2020

Illustration of the Stellar black holes spiralling in the centre of the galaxy (Source: Science News)

The gravitation waves of a highly intensified cataclysm caused by the spiralling of two black holes were received by earth 700 crore years after the big bang. Named GW190521, the scientific discovery was announced in the Physics Review Paper on the 2nd of September.

On the 21st of May in 2019, sharp signals were picked up at LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory) in the United States and Virgo in Italy. The signals lasted for just one-tenth of a second—confirming a cataclysm emerging from a humongous black hole. The intensity of the gravitational waves was such that it created ripples in the fabric of time. The energy released from the bang is equivalent to that of eight suns being released at once.

Originating from the demise of a sufficiently big star, a black hole is matter that has collapsed in on itself. The gravitational force is such that even a ray of light cannot escape from the black hole. The gravitational wave GW190521 is the result of two stellar black holes colliding in the centre of the galaxy. One of the black holes is 85 times the mass of the sun and the other is 66 times the mass of the sun—resulting in a black hole 142 times mass of the sun.

According to National Geographic the researchers at Caltech believe that there are two types of well-known black holes—the stellar black holes that are about 10 times greater than the mass of the sun, and the supermassive black holes that are crores and lakhs of crores times greater than the mass of the sun. This new found black hole qualifies for an unknown intermediate category of 100-1,00,000 times greater the mass of the sun. The existence of this black hole is theoretically defined as any black hole of 60-130 times the mass of the sun. It was presumed that a black hole like this cannot exist. Such stars explode into debris after compression and heating and the phenomenon is known as a pair-instability supernova.

700 crore years ago, when this miracle happened, the universe was half of its current age.

Alan Weinstein, an astrophysicist from Caltech who was also on the discovery team, has said that one always faces surprises in astrophysics. “This is the biggest bang since the big bang observed by humanity”, he added.

The collision has resulted in a new set of probable theories coming from physicists across the world. One such theory is that the collision might just be a coincidence since the black holes were located at the same place as reported by BBC news. Researchers at Caltech also told BBC news that mysteries of the infinite space will only be solved when more of the collisions are detected.

(Sources: BBC, NBC, National Geographic)

Edited by Varun Vyas Hebbalalu

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