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Scientists may have observed something that has never been seen before: a black hole swallowing a neutron star.
About 900 million years ago, a catastrophic cosmic event sparked a ripple in space-time that passed through Earth last week (Aug. 14). Scientists observed the event at both the advanced LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory) and Virgo, LIGO's Italian counterpart. After further investigation and initial speculations, scientists think that this ripple could have been caused by the merger of a black hole and a neutron star.
Scientists - Signal - LIGO - Virgo - Candidate
Currently, scientists can only confirm that the signal detected by LIGO and Virgo is a gravitational-wave candidate, LIGO team member Christopher Berry, a physicist at Northwestern University, told Space.com. But, while Berry is hesitant to label the binary, known as S190814bv, because scientists have yet to confirm what objects may have merged and their exact sizes, "from our initial estimates, it looks like this could potentially be a neutron star-black hole binary," he said.
Related: With Gravitational-Wave Detectors, Cosmic Mysteries Will Be Solved
Sept - Years - Albert - Einstein - Existence
On Sept. 14, 2015, about a hundred years after Albert Einstein predicted their existence, LIGO made the first detection of gravitational waves. Now, just a few short years later, scientists detect gravitational waves with regularity, Berry said. But, while this growth in gravitational-wave astronomy is an incredible achievement, it is still very difficult and time-consuming for researchers to determine what binary merger causes the "chirp" signal that LIGO and Virgo detect.
Previously, researchers have discovered binary systems made up of two black holes and systems made up of two neutron stars. However, there has so far been no confirmed detection of a black hole-neutron star system. In this system, the black hole would eat away at — or even potentially swallow whole — the neutron star.
Scientists - Systems
Scientists currently consider that objects in these systems...
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