More gravitational waves hit Earth. No one knows what their source was

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Astronomers scratch their heads.

As scientists finally have the tools to detect gravitational waves, knowledge about them is constantly increasing. Nevertheless, those moving in a vacuum at the speed of light deformation of space-time still can seriously teach scientists. This is exactly what the gravitational waves did, which unexpectedly reached Earth last week.

What made these gravitational waves so amazing for astronomers? Well, the signal received by the LIGO and VIRGO gravitational wave detectors lasted only 14 milliseconds. Because of this, scientists were unable to determine the source of the waves.

Gravitational waves are formed even as a result of the collision of two massive objects, such as black holes or neutron stars. Waves from the collision of two neutron stars were detected in 2017 and in 2019. However, when the source of the waves is such events, the detectors record them for a longer period. In addition, a whole series of variable frequency waves is then detected. This variable frequency is due to the objects that are about to collide approach each other.

There is a small chance that the signal detected by LIGO and VIRGO last week was a series of waves. Not only did it last a small split second, it led to a very limited area on the sky map. Therefore, astronomers suggest that perhaps this short signal arose during a more fleeting event, such as a supernova explosion.

Gravitational waves

Interestingly, some even said that the source of the signal could be Betelgeza – a star whose brightness has mysteriously decreased recently. However, no supernova appeared at the site of Betelgeuse, so this scenario should be ruled out. In addition, other researchers say that even during a supernova explosion, gravitational waves would arise that the detectors would record for a long time. In addition, astronomers have recently not detected any neutrinos – small subatomic particles that supernovae are known to release.

The formation of gravitational waves could also have occurred through the merger of two medium-sized black holes. Collisions of neutron waves produce gravitational waves that last longer (about 30 seconds), and waves created during collisions of black holes are more like a series of pulses. However, collisions of medium-sized black holes can also be the source of a series of variable frequency waves. So, scientists have a pretty bad thing in front of their eyes.

Researchers have the greatest confidence in one thing. Since the signal was detected by all three LIGO detectors and the VIRGO detector, it is unlikely that it was noise in the data, i.e. a false alarm.

"The universe always surprises us. There may be completely new astronomical events that produce gravitational waves that we have not thought of at all. ", said Andy Howell, employee of the Global Telescope Network of the Los Cubres Observatory, who is not part of the teams supervising the work of LIGO and VIRGO.

At the moment, astronomers are observing the area of โ€‹โ€‹the sky where the waves came from with the help of many telescopes, trying to detect their source. For now, their efforts were ineffective.

Source: Live science