Gravitational waves play role in black hole show

Black hole
A disk of superheated debris blazes around a black hole. The bright circular pattern is caused by the gravitational lensing of light from the part of the disk that’s behind the black hole. (NOVA via YouTube)

Black holes are the collapsed stars of the show on “Black Hole Apocalypse,” a two-hour “NOVA” presentation that’s premiering Jan. 10 on PBS. But the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, also known as LIGO, gets its share of the spotlight as well.

“LIGO both opens and closes the show,” said Barnard College astrophysicist Janna Levin, who wrote a book about the gravitational-wave quest and hosts the “NOVA” program. “It’s the most important thing going on right now for black hole astrophysics.”

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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