These Black Holes Shouldn’t Exist, but There They Are

Two Goliaths of darkness crashed into each other 7 billion years ago, vibrating space-time and producing a loud, sharp chirp — almost a bang, one astronomer said — lasting just a tenth of a second in the antennas of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory and the Virgo interferometer observatory. That short signal from a galaxy far, far away has left astrophysicists with new questions about how black holes form and grow. Daniel Holz, a theorist at the University of Chicago and a member of the LIGO team, called the new discovery “the first LIGO/Virgo detection that’s truly surprising. All the other binary systems that we’ve detected fit reasonably well within expectations. But the black holes in this event aren’t supposed to exist!”

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