Observation of a 50-Solar-Mass Binary Black Hole Coalescence
This morning, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) announced its third detection of gravitational waves emitted by two colliding black holes. The detection, named GW170104, was observed by LIGO on January 4, 2017 at 10:11:58 UTC with the two black holes having estimated masses of 31 and 19 solar masses. The final black hole’s mass is estimated to be around 50 solar masses, having emitted roughly 2 solar masses’ worth of energy in gravitational waves during the collision.
GW170104 is preceded by two other detections made by LIGO in 2015, and all three detections are consistent with Albert Einstein’s his theory of relativity; Einstein was the first to predict the existence of gravitational waves in 1916. Below is a simulation, made by CITA researchers, that shows the evolution of the GW170104 binary black holes.
Several CITA researchers are members of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration and have made direct contributions to the detection of this event. In particular, CITA researchers are actively involved in estimating the parameters of the event, as well as in developing the theoretical waveforms that are used to determine the parameters. CITA researches also perform cross-checks of the detection using numerical solutions calculated with supercomputers and contributes to the low-latency search pipeline that identified the event. For details on CITA’s involvement in LIGO and gravitational waves, please visit our research page.