Background Sound In Space Could Reveal Hidden Black Holes

Posted: Apr 13 2018, 10:08am CDT | by , Updated: Apr 13 2018, 10:58am CDT, in News | Latest Science News

 
Background Sound in Space could Reveal Hidden Black Holes
Credit: The SXS (Simulating eXtreme Spacetimes) Project

Australian researchers have developed a new, more sensitive way to listen in on colliding black holes

Black holes are some of the most mysterious objects in the universe. These celestial objects can absorb light and other forms of radiation, which makes them impossible to see directly. Their existence has been determined largely from the effect they have on the visible objects around them. Now, Australian researchers have found a new, more sensitive way for detecting black holes. They suggest that black holes can be located by tracking the sound of their collisions.

Every few minutes, two black collide somewhere in the universe. When two black holes smash into each other, they create ripples in the fabric of spacetime known as gravitational waves. These gravitational waves leave a distinctive whooping sound which is audible in the data collected by gravitational-wave detectors. This gravitational-wave hum can reveal the presence of thousands of previously hidden black holes in the universe.

“Measuring the gravitational-wave background will allow us to study populations of black holes at vast distances. Someday, the technique may enable us to see gravitational waves from the Big Bang, hidden behind the gravitational waves from black holes and neutron stars.” Drs Eric Thrane from Monash University said in a statement.

Last year, LIGO and Virgo researchers made the first measurements of gravitational waves and light from two merging neutron stars. The same team was also involved in the first-ever direct observation of gravitational waves in September 2015, which confirmed Albert Einstein's 1915 general theory of relativity.

To date, six gravitational-wave events have been confirmed by the LIGO and Virgo Collaborations. But researchers believe that thousands of more occur every year. Most of them go unnoticed because they are too faint to pick up by current technology.

To solve the problem, researchers collected masses of data and developed computer simulations of faint black hole signals in which they were able to find unambiguous evidence of black hole mergers. Researchers will use a computer, called OzSTAR, for finding gravitational waves in LIGO data, which is many times more powerful than computers used by the LIGO community.

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