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New research reveals that some black hole collisions may cascade, with the dense objects crashing into one another to create even more-massive black holes. This runaway growth may happen within groups of stars known a globular clusters.
"We think these clusters formed with hundreds to thousands of black holes that rapidly sank down in the center," Carl Rodriguez, a theoretical astrophysicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said in a statement. Working with an international team of scientists, Rodriguez modeled how black hole collisions should function according to Albert Einstein's theory of general relativity. The researchers found that black holes initially created by stars within globular clusters should grow more to be than 50 times as massive as Earth's sun if they collide with other black holes.
A snapshot of a simulation showing the binary black hole formed in the heart of a dense cluster of stars.
Laser - Interferometer - Gravitational-Wave - Observatory - LIGO
In 2016, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) made the first detection of the signatures of gravitational waves. According to Einstein's theory of general relativity, gravitational waves are released as energy when two black holes merge. LIGO's observations not only provided proof of gravitational waves, but they also confirmed the existence of stellar-binary black holes.
At the end of its lifetime, a massive star can blow off its material in a spectacular supernova. This can leave behind a stellar black hole at the stellar heart. Weighing in at around 10 times the mass of the sun, a stellar black hole can stretch just a few tens of kilometers across.
Rodriguez - Colleagues - Holes - Clusters - Collections
Rodriguez and his colleagues decided to investigate how black holes behave within globular clusters, compact collections of stars that can be found in most galaxies. The population of clusters is dependent on the galaxy's size; huge elliptical galaxies can boast tens of thousands of globular clusters, while...
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