Physicists last year successfully detected the elusive gravitational waves which were predicted by Albert Einstein in the mid-nineteenth century on the basis of his famous general theory of relativity. Now scientists have discovered yet another source of gravitational waves, two black holes merging into one. Black holes by nature are extremely massive objects, formed by the death of a star. The two black holes that were observed were 50 and 34 times the mass of the sun and their merger has produced an even larger black hole which is 80 solar masses. This rare cosmic event occurred about 5 billion light-years away. What it means in terms of space-time is that the merger happened 5 billion years ago and we have been able to detect it now, since gravitational waves travel at the speed of light.
However, this discovery was already made last year, but scientists could not discern it immediately as it was buried under vast mounds of observational data. Advanced data analysis algorithms revealed the exciting find after sifting through last year observations and helping the experts connect the dots. Furthermore, this find comes alongside 3 other black hole mergers, although none of them were as massive. They now bring the total number of observed gravitational events to 11.
Gravitational waves are detected by a large device called the LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory). Physicists Rainer Weiss, Kip Thorne, and Barry Barish were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for their contributions to the detection of gravitational waves.
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