More gravitational waves detected

Using the LIGO and Virgo gravitational wave telescopes astronomers have detected two more gravitational waves.

On April 25, 2019, one of the twin LIGO instruments and the Virgo detector observed a candidate signal which – if confirmed – would be the first binary neutron star merger during the third observation run, which began on April 1. A second candidate signal was seen on April 26, which – if confirmed – could be a never-observed-before collision of a neutron star with a black hole. The latter candidate was observed by both LIGO instruments and the Virgo detector. Dozens of telescopes on the Earth and in space are searching for electromagnetic or astro-particle counterparts. No identification with an electromagnetic transient signal nor a host galaxy has been made to date for either candidate.

The resolution of LIGO and VIRGO are somewhat limited, so other telescopes have to scan a very large part of the sky to spot a counterpart. It is therefore likely that it will be years before the first counterpart event is identified. When it is however it will tell us how far away the event was and confirm what kind of event it was. Right now, they are only making educated guesses.


  • danae

    That’s really interesting. LIGO research goes on so unobtrusively, I never see news about discoveries, just quirky happenings:

    I live about two hours away from LIGO Hanford. Most people in this area aren’t even aware of the installation. I probably wouldn’t be, if a close relative hadn’t told me about a guided tour she was given several years back by a scientist who works there. It wasn’t operational at the time because of an equipment upgrade of some kind. She isn’t at all science-y, and wasn’t too sure what LIGO was supposed to be doing, but said lasers were involved, and really long, cement tunnels half-buried in the scrub, out in the middle of nowhere.

    Last year there was an article in our local paper reporting that there had been irregularities in the Hanford data nearly every afternoon for a while during the previous summer. The blips seemed to correspond with sounds recorded on a microphone installed onsite. (Anything but an extremely quiet environment drowns out signals the detector looks for.) Listening to the recordings, the physicist in charge of finding and eliminating the source of errant noise almost immediately said the sounds reminded him of birds pecking at something.

    He’d seen ravens in the area. He discovered that they were hanging out on metal pipes carrying super-cold nitrogen into the tunnels, scraping together little heaps of frost from the pipes with their beaks and eating it like a Dairy Queen treat. His team insulated the pipes, and the ravens found somewhere else to go for refreshments.

  • Col Beausabre

    What sort of engineers leave liquid nitrogen lines uninsulated ? Answer – contractors for the government. A government that sees no need to take even elementary steps to save the taxpayers money. You might as well make heaps of dollar bills, douse them with gasoline and set them afire. Making it worse, with all these super smart PhD’s running around – presumably having taken at least one course in thermodynamics (forget common sense and everyday experience) – and it never occurred to anyone to question why the pipes were left that way. Which demonstrates the NASA and, indeed, the whole government mindset, “it’s someone else’s money”. You think a private factory that has to pay shareholders would pee money away like that? And before someone says I’m making a mountain out of a molehill, it’s not the dollars lost here – which are probably relatively trivial – it’s the attitude

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