Largest black hole collision ever detected

Seven billion years ago, two large black holes crashed together and formed a massive new one. It is the largest black hole collision ever detected in space, and the new black hole formed in the crash is the largest of its kind ever detected. It’s so large, in fact, that physicists weren’t sure it could exist at all.

The ripples from that collision reached the two Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) detectors in the U.S. and another in Italy called on May 21, 2019, after traveling through space for 2.5 billion years longer than the sun has existed. Those ripples revealed signatures of the merger of at least two black holes —  one a black hole 85 times the mass of the sun and one 66 times the sun’s mass. When they collided, they formed a black hole 142 times the mass of the sun. The missing nine suns’ worth of matter got converted into energy in the collision, shaking the universe hard enough for LIGO and Virgo to detect and interpret. And that’s how scientists learned that 85 solar mass black holes and monster 142 solar mass black holes can exist at all.

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