Scientists confirm for the first time collisions between neutron stars and black holes, which swallow their companions like Pac-Man

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An international group of scientists for the first time unequivocally confirmed the collision of a black hole and a neutron star in two hugely powerful separate events.

In a new study, published In The Astrophysical Journal Letters, the researchers report the detection of gravitational waves resulting from two separate mergers between a neutron star and a black hole.

Each of these events was recorded only 10 days apart in January 2020. Gravitational waves were captured by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO) in the US and the Virgo Gravitational Wave Observatory in Italy.

“It is an impressive milestone for the nascent field of gravitational wave astronomy. Neutron stars that merge with black holes are among the most extreme phenomena in the universe. Observing these collisions opens up new avenues to learn about fundamental physics, as well as how stars are born, live, and die “, He said astrophysicist Rory Smith, from Monash University, Australia.

The first event, GW200105, which was detected on January 5, 2020, involved a black hole about nine times the mass of the Sun that collided with a 1.9 solar mass neutron star. This collision took place about 900 million years ago.

The second event, GW200115, detected on January 15, 2020, occurred about 1 billion years ago with the merger of a 6-solar-mass black hole and a 1.5-solar-mass neutron star.

“Each collision is not just the union of two massive, dense objects. It’s really like ‘Pac-Man’, with a black hole completely swallowing its companion neutron star. These are remarkable events and we have waited a long time to witness them. So it’s amazing to finally catch them. ” Indian Susan Scott of the Australian National University.

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