In a previous post, we discussed the groundbreaking discovery of gravitational waves and it’s importance for science as a whole.
Now LIGO has observed another detection, and it has the incredible feature of being the first direct observation of a spinning black hole. The merging objects are also smaller (8 and 14 solar masses) but the final black hole is comparable in size to the first detection.
Now, before I mention that these objects could be the intermediate mass black holes produced by the first stars, the possibility is there that these black holes increased in size exclusively from merging.
So could merging black holes produce the intermediate size black holes that we saw in the first detection?
After these two black holes merged into a single black hole, that single black hole has a mass we estimate to be about 21 solar masses. That has been in the neighborhood of the previous black holes that we saw back in February which were 29 and 36 times the mass of the sun.
At this stage, with just a few detections is very difficult to tell the scenario under which the black holes formed and merge. For example, they could form in globular clusters. In these heavy stellar groups, you have a very dense environment, and large objects (like black holes) tend to fall towards the center of the cluster and that’s a scenario where large black holes can meet each other.
More detections are needed, but this mystery will be solved sooner rather than later.