Gravitational waves from neutron star merger likely birthed black hole
A new study reveals that the gravitational waves from 2017's neutron star merger.

Tyler MacDonald | 4 hours ago

Last fall, two neutron stars merged and created gravitational waves that scientists now believe birthed a black hole. And if this black hole exists, it would have the lowest mass of any black hole ever discovered.

The new study used data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory taken in the days, weeks, and months following the detection of gravitational waves by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO) and gamma rays by NASA's Fermi mission on August 17, 2017.

"While neutron stars and black holes are mysterious, we have studied many of them throughout the universe using telescopes like Chandra," said Dave Pooley of Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas and lead author of the study. "That means we have both data and theories on how we expect such objects to behave in X-rays."

If the new black hole is confirmed, it highlights the fact that black hole creation is sometimes complicated.

"We may have answered one of the most basic questions about this dazzling event: what did it make?" said co-author Pawan Kumar of the University of Texas at Austin. "Astronomers have long suspected that neutron star mergers would form a black hole and produce bursts of radiation, but we lacked a strong case for it until now."

Follow-up observations will determine if a neutron star survived the event, which would call into question current theories on neutron star structure and mass.

"At the beginning of my career, astronomers could only observe neutron stars andblack holesin our own galaxy, and now we are observing these exoticstarsacross the cosmos," said co-author Bruce Gossan. "What an exciting time to be alive, to see instruments like LIGO and Chandra showing us so many thrilling things nature has to offer."

The findings were published in The Astrophysical Journal.

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