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Visible light search for gravitational waves black hole merger comes up empty

by • February 16, 2016 • No Comments

Last week an international team of scientists revealed that they had created history by directly detecting gravitational waves. In light of those findings, a 2nd team has attempted to detect the burst of visible light given off by the source of the waves – two merging black holes. The results were disappointing, but may assist next attempts at imaging the source of gravitational waves.

Gravitational waves were initially theorized as a part of Einstein’s theory of general relativityin 1916, and astronomers had been searching for them at any time since. On Sept. 14, 2015, twin say of the art interferometry observatories known as LIGO finally detected the phenomena.

Encoded in the waves are the significant characteristics of the source of the gravitational event, that include its weight, dimensions, and the general way of that they emanated. So by analyzing the wave picked up by the observatories, astronomers may narrow down their search area in the hunt for the visible light component of the chaotic event.

Over the course of a three-week period, the astronomers created use of the 3 square-degree Dark Energy Camera mounted on the 4-m (13-ft) Blanco telescope located at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile, to survey an astounding 700 square degrees of sky – the equivalent of 2,800 full Moons.

Unfortunately, the team was unable to locate the burst of light emitted by the merging black holes. While the search was ultimately a failure, it can have the effect of aiding next effortsto complete a dual observation of a gravity wave and the visible light burst by serving as a version to be improved upon.

Source: Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

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