NASA has detected a burst of light that might be linked to one of the most monumental space discoveries ever made

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In September, physicists made a monumental discovery that opened up a new window to the universe.

Using equipment called the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO), the researchers detected ripples in the fabric of space-time called gravitational waves, something Einstein's general theory of relativity predicted a century ago.

SEE ALSO: Scientists may have detected gravity waves for the first time ever

These gravitational waves should allow scientists to directly study some of the most violent processes out there and probe general relativity by observing how gravity behaves in extreme conditions.

But on that same day — less than half a second after LIGO made its monumental discovery — the Fermi Telescope, a space observatory orbiting the earth, picked up a brief, faint signal from the same region of space. The chances of that being coincidental hover around 0.2%. And if it wasn't a coincidence, it could open the door to a whole new world of physics.

A flash of gamma rays

On September 14, Fermi observed what's known as a gamma-ray burst, a flash of the most energetic type of light in the electromagnetic spectrum, radiating from the same neighborhood as the black-hole merger.

According to what we know about black holes, this shouldn't have happened: Light shouldn't be able to escape from two betrothed black holes since any gas surrounding them would be swallowed up by one before it merged.

fermi telescope gamma ray dark lightingSXS/LIGO

But in order to produce a gamma-ray burst, there must have been some gas left over.

"Gamma-rays arising from a black hole merger would be a landmark finding because black holes are expected to merge 'cleanly', without producing any sort of light," NASA explained in a press release.

To figure out what this gamma-ray burst means, then, physicists will need to observe more of them. And, like this one, the bursts will have to be linked with gravitational waves from black-hole mergers.

How to spot a gravitational wave

LIGO is just one key way scientists hope to hunt for gravitational waves. It currently consists of two detectors, one in Louisiana and the other in Washington. The detectors use a laser beam, split between a pair identical arms that form an L-shape, to detect almost imperceptible differences in length caused by a gravitational wave passing through and warping the fabric of space-time where the detector sits.

ligo nsfSXS/LIGO

But there's a problem with the gravitational-wave observatories we have now: They possess relatively blurry vision, according to NASA.

So when LIGO spotted the black-hole collision, it was only able to determine its location within an area spanning 600 square degrees of the sky. That's the equivalent of looking for a needle in a haystack the size of the US, Gizmag reports.

Using the gamma-ray burst could help physicists narrow this search area by two-thirds to just 200 square degrees of the sky.

At the very least, these gamma-ray bursts could help physicists put a finger on the source of the gravitational waves that they detect.

Related: See photos of Pluto:

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New Horizons' Pluto mission
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NASA has detected a burst of light that might be linked to one of the most monumental space discoveries ever made
IN SPACE - JULY 15: In this handout provided by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Backlit by the sun, Plutos atmosphere rings its silhouette like a luminous halo in this image taken by NASAs New Horizons spacecraft around midnight EDT on July 15, and released July 23, 2015. New Horizons passed by Pluto July 14, closing to a distance of about 7,800 miles (12,500 kilometers). This global portrait of the atmosphere was captured when the spacecraft was about 1.25 million miles (2 million kilometers) from Pluto and shows structures as small as 12 miles across The 1,050-pound piano sized probe was launched January 19, 2006 aboard an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida, (Photo by NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI via Getty Images)
IN SPACE - JULY 14: In this handout provided by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), A newly discovered mountain range lies near the southwestern margin of Plutos Tombaugh Regio (Tombaugh Region), situated between bright, icy plains and dark, heavily-cratered terrain. This image was acquired by New Horizons Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) on July 14, 2015 from a distance of 48,000 miles (77,000 kilometers) and sent back to Earth on July 20, 2015. Features as small as a half-mile (1 kilometer) across are visible.. The 1,050-pound piano sized probe was launched January 19, 2006 aboard an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida, (Photo by NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI via Getty Images)

Pluto's largest moon Charon

Image Credit: NASA-JHUAPL-SwRI

This July 13, 2015, image of Pluto and Charon is presented in false colors to make differences in surface material and features easy to see. It was obtained by the Ralph instrument on NASA's New Horizons spacecraft, using three filters to obtain color information, which is exaggerated in the image.  These are not the actual colors of Pluto and Charon, and the apparent distance between the two bodies has been reduced for this side-by-side view.

Image Credit: NASA/APL/SwRI

One of the final images taken before New Horizons made its closest approach to Pluto on 14 July 2015. (Photo via NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute)
LAUREL, MD - JULY 14: In this handout provided by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Alice Bowman New Horizons mission operations manager, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), left, New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern of Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), Boulder, CO., and NASA Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate John Grunsfeld unveil the last and sharpest  image of Pluto captured before closest approach of the New Horizons spacecraft during a media briefing moderated by NASA Senior Public Affairs Officer Dwayne Brown, right, Tuesday, July 14, 2015 at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland. New Horizons spacecraft is nearing its July 14 fly-by when it will close to a distance of about 7,800 miles (12,500 kilometers). The 1,050-pound piano sized probe, which was launched January 19, 2006 aboard an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida, is traveling 30,800 mph as it approaches. (Photo by Bill Ingalls/NASA via Getty Images)
IN SPACE - JULY 11: In this handout provided by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the dwarf planet Pluto is shown at distance of about 2.5 million miles July 11, 2015. NASA's New Horizons spacecraft is nearing its July 14 flyby when it will close to a distance of about 7,800 miles (12,500 kilometers). The 1,050-pound piano sized probe, which was launched January 19, 2006 aboard an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida, is traveling 30,800 mph as it approaches. (Photo by NASA/JHUAPL/SWRI via Getty Images)
IN SPACE - JULY 11: In this handout provided by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the dwarf planet Pluto (R) and Charon are shown July 11, 2015. NASA's New Horizons spacecraft is nearing its July 14 flyby when it will close to a distance of about 7,800 miles (12,500 kilometers). The 1,050-pound piano sized probe, which was launched January 19, 2006 aboard an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida, is traveling 30,800 mph as it approaches. (Photo by NASA/JHUAPL/SWRI via Getty Images)
Artist’s concept of the New Horizons spacecraft as it approaches Pluto and its largest moon, Charon, in July 2015. (Photo via NASA)
A view of Pluto and Charon as they would appear if placed slightly above Earth's surface and viewed from a great distance. (Photo via NASA)
Artist conception of New Horizons Spacecraft. (Photo by Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute via NASA) 
In this artist's rendering, Pluto's largest moon Charon rises over the frozen south pole surface of Pluto, casting a faint silvery luminescence across the distant planetary landscape. (Photo by JHUAPL/SwRI via NASA)

This map of Pluto, made from images taken by the LORRI instrument aboard New Horizons, shows a wide array of bright and dark markings of varying sizes and shapes. The elongated dark area informally known as “the whale,” along the equator on the left side of the map, is one of the darkest regions visible to New Horizons. It measures some 1,860 miles (3,000 kilometers) in length. Continuing to the right, along the equator, we see the four mysterious dark spots that have so intrigued the world, each of which is hundreds of miles across. Meanwhile, the whale’s “tail,” at the left end of the dark feature, cradles a bright donut-shaped feature about 200 miles (350 kilometers) across. (Photo via NASA-JHUAPL-SWRI)

IN SPACE - JULY 8: In this handout provided by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the dwarf planet Pluto (R) and it's largest moon Charon is shown at distance of about 3.7 million miles from NASA's New Horizons spacecraft July 8, 2015. The craft is nearing its July 14 flyby when it will close to a distance of about 7,800 miles (12,500 kilometers) from Pluto. The 1,050-pound piano sized probe, which was launched January 19, 2006 aboard an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida, is traveling 30,800 mph as it approaches. The color information in the image, obtained earlier in the mission from instruments, has been added. (Photo by NASA/JHUAPL/SWRI via Getty Images)

This image of Pluto and its largest moon, Charon, was taken by the Ralph color imager aboard NASA's New Horizons spacecraft on April 9 and downlinked to Earth the following day. It is the first color image ever made of the Pluto system by a spacecraft on approach. The image is a preliminary reconstruction, which will be refined later by the New Horizons science team. Clearly visible are both Pluto and the Texas-sized Charon. The image was made from a distance of about 71 million miles (115 million kilometers)-roughly the distance from the Sun to Venus. At this distance, neither Pluto nor Charon is well resolved by the color imager, but their distinctly different appearances can be seen. As New Horizons approaches its flyby of Pluto on July 14, it will deliver color images that eventually show surface features as small as a few miles across.

Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute

A Lockheed Martin Atlas V rocket carrying the New Horizons spacecraft lifts off from Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral in Florida, Thursday, January 19, 2006. The New Horizons spacecraft is bound for the planet Pluto to map surface composition and temperatures, and examine Pluto's atmosphere. It will take 9 years for the spacecraft to reach the planet Pluto. (Photo by Red Huber/Orlando Sentinel/MCT via Getty Images)
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, UNITED STATES: As photographers follow with their camera lenses, the New Horizons spacecraft atop an Atlas V rocket, disappears into the clouds 19 January 2006 at the Kennedy Space Center, Florida. Following two days of delays, the spacecraft is on a trailblazing probe to Pluto, at the solar system's outermost limits. AFP PHOTO/ Bruce Weaver (Photo credit should read BRUCE WEAVER/AFP/Getty Images)
CAMBRIDGE, MA - DECEMBER 10: Richard Binzel, a professor of planetary sciences at MIT who is part of a team working on a NASA mission to Pluto. This is a globe of the solar system. (Photo by Suzanne Kreiter/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
UNSPECIFIED - JANUARY 17: American astronomer Clyde Tombaugh discovered Pluto, the ninth planet in our solar system, on 18 February 1930. Many key questions about Pluto, its moon Charon, and the outer fringes of our solar system await close-up observations. A proposed NASA mission called New Horizons, depicted in this artist's concept, would use miniature cameras, radio science experiments, ultraviolet and infrared spectrometers and space plasma experiments to study Pluto and Charon, map their surface compositions and temperatures, and examine Pluto's atmosphere in detail. (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images)
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, UNITED STATES: Engineers from Johns Hopkins University check out NASA's New Horizons spacecraft 04 November 2005 in the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at Kennedy Space Center, Florida in preparation for its mid-January 2006 launch aboard an Atlas V rocket. The New Horizons will be the first mission to the planet Pluto and the Kuiper Belt, the journey taking about nine years. Pluto was discovered in 1930 at a distance of some 6.4 billion kilometers (three billion miles) from the sun in the heart of the Kuiper Belt -- a zone beyond Neptune 4.5-7.5 billion kilometers (2.8-4.6 billion miles) from the sun, which is estimated to include more than 35,000 objects of more than 100 kilomters (65 miles) in diameter: the remnants of the sun's accretion ring of matter from which all the planets were formed. AFP PHOTO/Bruce WEAVER (Photo credit should read BRUCE WEAVER/AFP/Getty Images)
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, UNITED STATES: Engineers from Johns Hopkins University check out NASA's New Horizons spacecraft 04 November 2005 in the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at Kennedy Space Center, Florida in preparation for its mid-January 2006 launch aboard an Atlas V rocket. The New Horizons will be the first mission to the planet Pluto and the Kuiper Belt, the journey taking about nine years. Pluto was discovered in 1930 at a distance of some 6.4 billion kilometers (three billion miles) from the sun in the heart of the Kuiper Belt -- a zone beyond Neptune 4.5-7.5 billion kilometers (2.8-4.6 billion miles) from the sun, which is estimated to include more than 35,000 objects of more than 100 kilomters (65 miles) in diameter: the remnants of the sun's accretion ring of matter from which all the planets were formed. AFP PHOTO/Bruce WEAVER (Photo credit should read BRUCE WEAVER/AFP/Getty Images)
A Lockheed Martin Atlas V rocket carrying the New Horizons spacecraft lifts off from Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral in Florida, Thursday, January 19, 2006. The New Horizons spacecraft is bound for the planet Pluto to map surface composition and temperatures, and examine Pluto's atmosphere. It will take 9 years for the spacecraft to reach the planet Pluto. (Photo by Red Huber/Orlando Sentinel/MCT via Getty Images)
The New Horizons spacecraft atop an Atlas V rocket lifts off 19 January 2006 at the Kennedy Space Center, Florida. The spacecraft is on a trailblazing probe to Pluto, at the solar system's outermost limits, following two days of delays AFP PHOTO/Bruce Weaver (Photo credit should read BRUCE WEAVER/AFP/Getty Images)
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