Listen to the sound of 2 black holes colliding in deep space
Scientists announced on Thursday that they have detected the telltale "chirp" from gravitational waves produced by a collision between two black holes 1.3 billion years ago. If the discovery is successfully replicated by other researchers, it will be known as one of the seminal achievements in physics.
Scientists working with the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) instruments in Washington and Louisiana converted the signal from the black hole collision into sound, allowing all of us to hear the echoes of the cosmic collision.
The sound waves signal the existence of gravitational waves — ripples in the fabric of space and time set off by the tremendous forces involved in the collision — that were generated as the two black holes merged.
This discovery marks the first time gravitational waves have been directly observed, validating one of Albert Einstein's predictions made 100 years ago.
"As the black holes spiral closer and closer in together, the frequency of the gravitational waves increases," the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) said.
"Scientists call these sounds 'chirps,' because some events that generate gravitation waves would sound like a bird's chirp."
But this wasn't just some little "chirp." In only a fraction of a second, the black hole merger unleashed "50 times more energy than all the stars in the observable universe," Caltech added.
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