The largest black hole collision ever detected was directly recorded by the LIGO and VIRGO Scientific Collaboration, including scientists from The Australian National University (ANU).
The signal in cause was a short gravitational wave, GW190521, and it was captured by the LIGO and VIRGO gravitational-wave observatories in the U.S. and Europe on May 21, 2019.
The wave resulted from two highly spinning, mammoth black holes weighing in at a colossal 85 times and 66 times the sun’s mass.
However, the reason why the system is so unique is that the larger of the two black holes was deemed “impossible” by astronomers.
They predict that start between 65-130 times the mass of the sun experience a process known as pair-instability, which ends up with the star being blown apart, leaving nothing behind.
The more massive black hole fits the so-called forbidden range, known as the upper black hole mass gap, and it should be “impossible!”
That raised a puzzling question – If that black hole isn’t the result of a star’s collapse, how did it form then?
ProfessorSusan Scott from the ANU Research School of Physics stated:
“We think of black holes as the vacuum cleaners of the Universe. They suck in everything in their paths, including gas clouds and stars.”
“They also suck in other black holes, and it is possible to produce bigger and bigger black holes by the ongoing collisions of earlier generations of black holes. The heavier `impossible’ black hole in our detected collision may have been produced in this way,” she added.
The merger between the black holes happened when the Universe was only approximately seven billion years old, half its current age.