Four black hole smashups added to LIGO’s list

Black hole merger
An artist’s conception shows two black holes merging. (LIGO / Caltech / MIT Illustration)

Four more mergers of black holes, including the biggest one recorded to date, have been added to a catalog generated by gravitational-wave detectors.

The additions were announced today by the teams in charge of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, or LIGO, and the European-based Virgo detector. The full list of stellar-mass binary black hole mergers now stands at 10, with a neutron-star merger thrown in for good measure.

“The release of four additional binary black hole mergers further informs us of the nature of the population of these binary systems in the universe, and better constrains the event rate for these types of events,” Caltech physicist Albert Lazzarini, deputy director of the LIGO Laboratory, said in a news release

The four previously unreported detections came to light during a re-analysis of data from LIGO’s first two observing runs. The third run, known as O3, is scheduled to begin next spring.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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