For the first time, astronomers may have observed the light emitted by two black holes colliding with one another, according to reports. A black hole is invisible to light-detecting telescopes because they are completely dark. For the time being, the only manner in which astronomers have been able to “observe” black holes colliding is through detecting the gravitational waves that emerge from the collision.
Gravitational waves are ripples in spacetime predicted by Einstein’s general theory of relativity and produced by extreme collisions between massive celestial objects such as black holes and neutron stars. The first gravitational wave detection was made by scientists in 2015. Since then, scientists have continued to investigate gravitational waves, attempting to understand their origins and the collisions that may have caused them.
Because a black hole has a gravitational force that is so intense that not even light can escape, they are challenging to view. Astronomers have not yet observed a collision between two black holes that can be visually identified. That is, up until now, at any rate. Following recent observations, scientists believe they may have observed light from what appears to be the merger of two black holes for the first time if this is the case.
According to a NASA statement, while a black hole is entirely dark, some theories suggest that collisions, or mergers, between black holes could produce a light signal through the material that surrounds them by forcing the matter to radiate, causing a light signal to travel through the material that surrounds them. A team of astronomers at the Palomar Observatory in California, who were utilizing Caltech’s Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF), believe they may have discovered a signal similar to that of the comet.
Science discovered the gravitational wave caused by the merger of two black holes on May 21, 2019, by combining data from two distinct gravitational wave detectors: the European Virgo detector and the LIGO (National Science Foundation’s Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory). The gravitational wave they observed was caused by a collision event designated GW190521g, which the team believes may have been caused by colliding.
Because of this discovery, an astronomical team used the ZTF to peek out into the cosmos and look for light signals from the impact. The discovery would mark the first time visible light has been utilized as proof of two black holes interacting and generating a gravitational wave if the findings are validated.