A team of researchers from the US has developed an improved method for modeling the mergers of colossal black holes.
Their improved method could help shed new light on the structure of merging black holes and their role in the universe.
It could also help to test Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity, which describes the violent cosmic mergers of black holes.
New modeling method sheds light on merging black holes
The researchers, who published their findings in a paper in Physical Review Letters, devised a more complex method for modeling the signal that gravitational waves emit. They did this by including nonlinear interactions in the models.
“This is a big step in preparing us for the next phase of gravitational wave detection, which will deepen our understanding of gravity and these incredible phenomena taking place in the far reaches of the cosmos,” Lagos, a co-author on the paper, explained in a press release.
Gravitational waves were first detected in 2015 by the LIGO observatory, which is set to go back into operation in March after a long hiatus, dating back to 2020, caused by the Covid pandemic. Gravitational waves are ripples in space-time caused by major cosmic events, such as black hole mergers. They were first proposed in Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity.
Now, the new method could help test whether Einstein’s seminal theory correctly describes the behavior of gravity in extreme cosmic events like mergers.
How do gravitational waves reveal the inner workings of black holes?
Study co-author Lam Hui used a mystery box analogy to explain how gravitational waves can help reveal what’s happening during a merger: “If I give you a box and ask you what’s in it, the natural thing to do is to shake it. That would tell you whether inside the box are candies or coins. That’s what we’re trying to do with these models, is gather a sense of the inner contents of a black hole by listening to the sound that’s emitted when it’s shaken.”
“By listening to the harmonics that it emits, we can assess the space-time structure of the black hole,” Hui continued.
The researchers believe their new model could offer an improvement of up to 10 percent over existing models, meaning we could soon have a better idea of what’s happening during those violent cosmic events.