Dense Star Clusters Shown as Binary Black Hole Factories http://b4in.org/bK7j
The coalescence of two black holes — a very violent and exotic event — is one of the most sought-after observations of modern astronomy. But, as these mergers emit no light of any kind, finding such elusive events has been impossible so far.
Colliding black holes do, however, release a phenomenal amount of energy as gravitational waves. The first observatories capable of directly detecting these ‘gravity signals’ — ripples in the fabric of spacetime first predicted by Albert Einstein 100 years ago — will begin observing the universe later this year.
When the gravitational waves rolling in from space are detected on Earth for the first time, a team of Northwestern University astrophysicists predicts astronomers will “hear,” through these waves, five times more colliding black holes than previously expected. Direct observations of these mergers will open a new window into the universe.
“This information will allow astrophysicists to better understand the nature of black holes and Einstein’s theory of gravity,” said Frederic A. Rasio, a theoretical astrophysicist and senior author of the study. “Our study indicates the observatories will detect more of these energetic events than previously thought, which is exciting.”
Image: Frame from a simulation of the merger of two black holes and the resulting emission of gravitational radiation (colored fields). The outer red sheets correspond directly to the outgoing gravitational radiation that one day may be detected by gravitational-wave observatories.