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First Evidence for Binary Black Hole Mergers


An artist’s impression of two stars orbiting each other and progressing (from left to right) to merger with resulting gravitational waves. [Image: NASA]

The gravitational waves detected on September 14, 2015 at 09:50:45 UTC from the two detectors of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) is first observation of a binary black hole merger. The initial black holes are found to have individual masses of 29 and 36 solar masses and merged to form a single black hole with a mass of 62 solar masses. The merger occurred at a distance of approximately 400 Mpc from Earth.

What did the merger look like?

SXS Collaboration: What the first LIGO detection would look like

SXS Collaboration: Warped Spacetime and Horizons of GW150914

What does the merger sound like?

This sound clip has been generated using real data from GW150914. The sound-wave frequencies have been increased to make the merger audible to human ears.

What role did CITA play in this detection?

The local members of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration are Prof. Harald Pfeiffer, Postdoctoral Fellow Prayush Kumar, and Heather Fong, a graduate student in Physics. A fourth member, CITA Senior Research Associate Kipp Cannon recently left to a faculty position at the University of Tokyo. CITA researchers have contributed to the search pipelines that identified GW150914. They have also contributed to the theoretical waveforms that are used to determine the masses and spins of the identified event, have estimated how often such events occur, and performed cross-checks with supercomputer calculations of merging black holes.

More information on the gravitational wave detection.
To read the technical papers discussing the event.

Published on: Feb 11, 2016

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