Black holes eating each other confirmed to collide in eccentric orbits for the 1st time – Republic World

In a historic first, a team of astronomers has confirmed the detection of two black holes merging into one after spiralling in eccentric orbits. Conducted by researchers from the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) and the University of Florida, the study is based on the observations of GW190521, a strong signal emerging from a binary black hole system. This signal was the most massive gravitational signal and its analysis revealed that the black holes adapted eccentric orbits before merging into one.

Black holes generally form an eccentric orbit when they are spiralling inwards under the gravitational influence of each other. The study experts said that this eccentric circle also underlines the fact that two black holes consume other black holes at the centre of a galaxy, an area considered to be densely populated with such entities. It is pertinent to mention here that when black holes merge, they generate massive amounts of gravitational waves which depends on their orbit type before the collision.

‘This represents a major advancement’, says study author

RIT professor and co-author of the study, Manuela Campanelli says that their discovery ‘represents a major advancement’ in their understanding of how black holes merge and what are its consequences. “Through our sophisticated supercomputer simulations and the wealth of new data provided by LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory) and Virgo’s rapidly advancing detectors, we are making new discoveries about the universe at astonishing rates”, he was quoted as saying as per

In order to study the gravitational wave signals from GW150521, the researchers ran hundreds of simulations before concluding that the merger indeed happened after the black holes followed an eccentric path. Another author and RIT professor Carlos Lousto revealed that both the black holes had an estimated mass over 70 times the size of our sun, a number which is above their estimated maximum mass. “This makes an interesting case to study as a second-generation binary black hole system and opens up to new possibilities of formation scenarios of black holes in dense star clusters”, reported him saying. Interestingly, the study which is now published in the journal Nature Astronomy, also underlines that some black holes might merge to form something much heavier than the estimated number. 

Image: Unsplash


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