"Black Hole Milky Way" by Gallery of Space Time Travel / CC BY-SA 2.0

Possible Detection of a Black Hole So Big It ‘Should Not Exist’

Aug 30, 2019

By Natalie Wolchover

Black hole physicists have been excitedly discussing reports that the LIGO and Virgo gravitational-wave detectors recently picked up the signal of an unexpectedly enormous black hole, one with a mass that was thought to be physically impossible.

“The prediction is no black holes, not even a few” in this mass range, wrote Stan Woosley, an astrophysicist at the University of California, Santa Cruz, in an email. “But of course we know nature often finds a way.”

Seven experts contacted by Quanta said they’d heard that among the 22 flurries of gravitational waves detected by LIGO and Virgo since April, one of the signals came from a collision involving a black hole of unanticipated heft — purportedly as heavy as 100 suns. LIGO/Virgo team members would neither confirm nor deny the rumored detection.

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