By Davide Castelvecchi
Gravitational waves may have just delivered the first sighting of a black hole devouring a neutron star. If confirmed, it would be the first evidence of the existence of such binary systems. The news comes just a day after astronomers had detected gravitational waves from a merger of two neutron stars for only the second time.
At 15:22:17 UTC on 26 April, the twin detectors of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) in the United States and the Virgo observatory in Italy reported a burst of waves of an unusual type. Astronomers are still analysing the data and doing computer simulations to interpret them.
But they are already considering the tantalizing prospect that they have made a long-hoped-for detection that could produce a wealth of cosmic information, from precise tests of the general theory of relativity to measuring the Universe’s rate of expansion. Astronomers around the world are also racing to observe the phenomenon using different types of telescope.
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