Holy space-time batman. Fresh off the back of last week’s gravitational wave announcement, which revealed two more merging black holes, there’s another coming later this month – but details are few and far between at the moment.
Whatever it is, it hasn’t been officially announced yet by LIGO or VIRGO, the two teams responsible for the previous discoveries. At the moment, we’ve just got comments from Rainer Weiss to go on, who was one of the three physicists to win the Nobel Prize in physics the other day for the first detection of gravitational waves.
“The [gravitational] waves are interesting, and the fact that you can directly detect them is important, but the real payoff is going to be in the future,” he said, reported Space.com. “It’s already happened, in some regards, and more of it will happen on October 16. I won’t tell you what it is, but I can tell you that there is more there, and I think there’s another whoop-de-do arranged for that. And I urge you to go to it, because [the announcement] is actually very interesting. But I won’t say any more than that.”
On September 27, we were treated to the fourth detection of ripples in space-time we call gravitational waves, and the first using three instruments – LIGO’s two L-shaped detectors in the US, and the new one at VIRGO in Italy too. That announcement proved to be two merging black holes, the same as previous discoveries.
In the build-up, however, there had been some speculation that the discovery was going to be two merging neutron stars, not black holes – which would be a first in this fledgling area of astronomy. That turned out not to be the case, but could it be the focus of this latest discovery?
There are other possibilities, of course. It may also be a similar discovery, perhaps with intriguing black hole masses. Or we may have pinpointed one of the sources of the gravitational waves – something we haven’t been able to do yet.
Whatever it is, make sure you keep your eyes out on October 16 for what could be another fascinating discovery in the realm of gravitational waves.