Gravitational waves reveal unprecedented collision of heavy and light black holes #Space @LIGO @ScienceMagazine

Researchers with the world’s gravitational wave detectors said on April 18th they had picked up vibrations from a cosmic collision that harmonized with the opening notes of an Elvis Presley hit (video).

The source was the most exotic merger of two black holes detected yet—a pair in which one weighed more than three times as much as the other. Because of the stark mass imbalance, the collision generated gravitational waves at multiple frequencies, in a harmony Elvis fans would recognize. The chord also confirms a prediction of Albert Einstein’s theory of gravity, or general relativity.

If the main frequency were a C on a piano, the overtone would be the next higher G—a perfect fifth, and the interval of the first two notes in the melody of Presley’s hit “I Can’t Help Falling in Love with You.” That is what the LIGO and Virgo researchers detected, says Maximiliano Isi, a physicist and LIGO member at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who also spoke at the meeting. The overtone rang roughly as loudly as predicted by general relativity, Isi says. “Einstein prevails again.”

Read more in Science Magazine


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