Researchers detect a type of unidentified astronomical object through gravitational waves


Imatge: LIGO/Caltech/MIT/R. Hurt (IPAC)

Imatge: LIGO/Caltech/MIT/R. Hurt (IPAC)

Researchers from the international collaborations Virgo detector –in which the Institute of Cosmos Sciences of the UB (ICCUB) takes part too–, and the National Science Foundation Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO) have announced the discovery of a compact object of about 2.6 solar masses. This finding, carried out thanks to the three detectors of gravitational waves with which both collaborations work, has been published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters. According to the results, the object is placed in a mass gap from which there were no observations yet.

This type of object found in the the so-called mass gap, made of compact objects with masses between 2.5 and 5 solar masses. That is, between the mass of the heaviest neutron star and the lightest blackhole, according to current astrophysical models.

“Thanks to the improvements to be applied in Virgo observatory (EGO) —located in Pisa (Italy) —, in the data analysis techniques and dynamic astrophysical models, —areas where ICCUB plays an important role— we expect to detect more events like this, which allow us to understand the exact nature of these intriguing astrophysical objects”, notes Jordi Portell, coordinator of the Virgo group at ICCUB, based in the Barcelona Science Park.

The nature of the object, detected in the gravitational event tagged as GW190814, is still a mystery. This event happened about 800 million years ago, when the object merged with a blackhole of about 23 solar masses. When this happened, it created a final blackhole of about 25 times the mass of the Sun. The merge generated an intense gravitational wave the three instruments of the network detected on August 14, 2019.

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