The dark questions before the big bang

Mysteries sing to us a charming song that touches us with the unknown, and the nature of the Universe is the deepest of all the most sought after mysteries. Where did it come from? Եւ Did it have a beginning? Եւ If it really had a beginning, will it end? Եւ If so, then how Or, instead, there is something eternal that we may never be able to comprehend, because the answer to our existence is beyond our horizon, և it’s beyond our human capacity to perceive. The visible universe is now thought to have formed about 14 billion years ago, when it is commonly referred to as the Big Bang, because everything we are, everything we can ever know, came into being in that distant time. Adding to the mystery that eighty percent of the mass of the Universe is not the atomic matter we know, but instead consists of undiscovered non-atomic particles that do not interact with light, are thus invisible. In August 2019, an astronomer at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, proposed that this transparent non-atomic substance, which we call dark matter may have already existed before the Big Bang.
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The study, published in 2019. In the August 7 issue Physical inspection letters, presents a new theory of how dark material was born, how he’s how it can be identified with astronomical observations.

“The study found that there is a new connection between the ‘astronomy’ of particle physics. If: dark material consists of new particles born before the Big Bang, which affect the distribution of galaxies in the sky in a unique way. “This link can be used to identify them, to draw conclusions about the time before the Big Bang,” Dr. Tommy Tenkanen explained on August 8, 2019. Press release from Sons Hopkins University. Dr. Tenkanen is the author of a study by Sons Hopkins University, a graduate student in physics and astronomy.

For years, scientific cosmologists thought so dark material must be a relic of the Big Bang. Researchers have long tried to solve the mystery dark matter but so far all experimental hunts have been empty-handed.

“If: dark material were the remnants of a really big explosion, and in many cases the researchers had to see the direct signal dark material “Already in various experiments in particle physics,” added Dr. Tenkanen.

The item is lost

The universe is believed to have been born about 13.8 billion years ago in the form of a super-small, succulent broth composed of densely packed particles commonly referred to as “fireballs.” Spacetime has been getting colder and colder ever since as it expands և accelerates as it expands from its original hot, bright shiny initial state. But what makes up our Universe? Has its mysterious composition changed over time? Most of our universe is “missing”, that is, it is made up of unrecognized matter called dark energy. Identity: dark energy is more mysterious than dark material. Dark energy causes the Universe to accelerate in its relentless expansion; it is often thought to be the property of the Universe.
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On the largest scale, the entire universe seems to be the same no matter where we look. Spacetime itself shows a sparkling, sparkling look. Huge heavy threads are woven around each other in a tangled web, which is called Space network. This huge, invisible structure glows with glowing hot gas և it glows with the starlight of countless galaxies stretched along transparent filaments. Web:Outlining with their brilliant stellar fires something we could not have seen otherwise. The flames of “billions of trillions of stars” ignite like drops of dew on the fire as they cling to the web of a huge, hidden spider web. Mother Nature very well hid her many secrets.

Huge, almost empty, very black cave Empties break this mysterious pattern woven with invisible twisted threads Web: Huge Empties are hosted by very few galactic inhabitants, which is why they seem empty or almost empty. Massive stellar ornament dark material threads Space network weave around these black circles, weaving what seems to us to be a twisted knot.

We cannot observe much of the Universe. Galaxies, galaxy clusters և galactic clusters are gravitationally trapped by the invisible halos consists of transparent dark material. This mysterious, invisible pattern, woven into a web-like structure, exists throughout Spacetime. They are astronomers almost is sure to be a ghost dark material It does exist in nature because of its gravitational pull on objects that can be directly observed, such as the way galaxies rotate. Although we can not see it dark material because it does not dance with light, it interacts with visible matter by gravity.

Recent measurements show that the universe is about 70% dark energy և 25% dark material“A very small percentage of the universe is made up of so-called ‘ordinary’ atomic matter, the material we know best, from which we are made. Extraordinary “ordinary” atomic matter makes up only 5% of the Universe, but this decay of space debris has nevertheless caused stars, planets, moons, birds, trees, flowers, cats, and humans. The stars prepared all the atomic elements heavier than helium in their fiery hearts, pouring out heavier, heavier atomic elements. (stellar nucleosynthesis). The oxygen you breathe, the carbon that is the basis of life on Earth, the calcium in your bones, the iron in your blood, are all the result of a nuclear fusion that took place deep inside the nucleus of the vast multitude of the universe. When the stars “died”, consuming the necessary reserves of nuclear fuel, they sent these newly forged atomic elements, singing among the stars. Atomic matter is the precious thing that has given life the opportunity to develop and evolve in space.

The universe can be more bizarre than we can imagine. Modern scientific cosmology began when Albert Einstein developed his two theories during the first decades of the 20th century. Relativity – Special (1905) և: General: (1915) – explain the universal mystery. At the time, astronomers believed that our corrugated spiral, star-shaped ky Milky Way galaxy was the entire Universe, that the Universe was “unchanging” and “eternal.” We now know that our Galaxy is just one of billions of others in the visible Universe, that the Universe is really changing over time. The Time Arrow moves in the direction of the expansion of the Universe.

At this point, when our Universe was born, in the smallest fraction of a second, it expanded to macroscopic proportions. Although no signal in space can travel faster than light in a vacuum, space itself can. The incredibly small patch that inflated our Space House started smaller than a proton. Spacetime expands և freezes when! All galaxies move farther and farther apart as the Universe expands into a space that has no center. Everything is rapidly disappearing from everything else, as Spacetime is rapidly expanding in its expansion, perhaps doomed to become a vast, scattered space of empty blackness in the very distant future. Scientists often compare our universe to a piece of bread with raisins. The dough expands, և as it does, it takes the raisins with it – the raisins gradually become more widely distributed due to the expansion of the yeast bread.

In: Visible Space: it is relatively the whole small, incredibly vast space that we are able to observe. The rest –majority its limits are much greater than we call it cosmological horizon“Light traveling from those incredibly distant realms to us originates beyond our horizons, and it has not been able to reach us since the Big Bang due to the expansion of the universe.”

The temperature of the original primitive ball was almost, but not so homogeneous. This extremely small deviation from perfect homogeneity gave rise to everything we have, we know. Before the period faster than light inflation It happened, gently the little primitive patch was quite homogeneous, smooth, it was the same in all directions. Inflation explains how the whole homogeneous, smooth package began to wave.

Small time fluctuations, or primitive ripples, at the birth of Spacetime occurred in the smallest units that could be used to measure (quantum): Theory: inflation explains how these tiny ripples in a small universe would eventually grow into large-scale structures such as galaxies, galactic clusters, and galactic superluminations.

Strange quantum The world is against common sense. It’s a shocking, frothy stage where absolutely nothing can stay perfect և where Time’s make no sense. From the beginning, the flat isotropic universe created small hills and canyons. The valleys became more and more empty, and the hills became higher and higher. heavier and heavier. This was due to the force of gravity. Gravity drew the heavier, higher hills of the original primitive universe. These “hills” eventually gravitated more and more to the material, forming a primitive broth. The less endowed plains, which did not have the same strong gravitational pull as the heavy hills, became more and more barren on this primitive broth. The mass distribution in the original universe was completely random. The result of strong gravitational effects from shocking quantum level fluctuations.

Dark questions before the big bang?

Using a simple, new mathematical framework, Dr. Tenkanen was able to show that: dark material may have occurred before the Big Bang. Instead, this invisible material was produced over a period of time Space inflation when the Universe experienced expansive expansion. Faster expansion than the speed of light has led to the proliferation of certain types of particles called scalars. Most popular: scalar: It is the particle found so far Higgs boson.

“We do not know what dark material but if it has anything to do with it scalar: particles, it may be older than the Big Bang. With the proposed mathematical scenario we should not assume new types of types և interactions dark material beyond gravity, which we already know exists, ”Dr. Tenkanen explained on August 8, 2019 Press release from Sons Hopkins University.

The idea that: dark material can be formed until the Big Bang is not new. However, theorists have not been able to make calculations that support this theory. New research by Dr. Tenkanen shows that scientists have repeatedly ignored the simplest mathematical model of origin dark material.

The new study points to a test of origin dark material. This can be done by scientists who consider signatures dark material leaves on the distribution of matter in space.

Dr. Tenkanen went on to say, “Until this type dark material is too elusive to detect particles in experiments, it may reveal its presence in astronomical observations. We will learn more about the origins soon dark material when: Euclid satellite will start in 2022. It will be very interesting to see what it will open about dark material և if its results can be used to look at the time before the Big Bang. ”


A glass of black holes in the secret heart of our galaxy

Our ky Dairy Galaxy has a secret heart of darkness, shrouded in mystery, well hidden from our view. A powerful gravitational beast lives in this strange region a huge black hole by name: Sagittarius A *–or: Sgr A * (Pronounced: saj-a-star:In short, it weighs millions of times more than our Ar!
Although Sgr A * He hid many of his secrets from the curious eyes of curious astronomers, now he is finally starting to tell his story, what a story it is. In May 2018, astronomers using NASA Chandra X-ray Observatory, said they had found thousands of relatively small pieces of evidence black holes of stellar mass, performing an exotic ballet near the dark heart of our galaxy, where: Sgr A * lives Black holes of stellar mass usually weighing 5 to 30 times the mass of the sun, նոր this newly “discovered” treasure filled with these “smaller” objects is located within three light years from where Sgr A * There is a secret, evil splendor – a charming heart of darkness that holds things.
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Three light years is a very short distance on space scales. Theoretical studies of the dynamics of stars living in galaxies suggest that a significant population black holes of stellar mass– maybe up to 20,000 – can wander in as time goes on, eventually gathering around Sgr A *, This latest study using the data obtained Chandra provides the first observational evidence of the existence of such a mess as witchcraft black holes our ky in his Katyn heart.
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Stellar mass objects are born especially as a result of the gravitational collapse of a massive star. This strange birth is usually heralded by a brilliant display of celestial fireworks called a supernatural, Supernatural stars They are the brightest stellar explosions known, այնքան they are so bright that they can often be seen up to the end of the Universe,, they can actually surpass their entire galactic host in the span of space-time to blink briefly. Black holes of stellar mass often called collapses
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a stellar mass Black hole, which is tightly closed in the orbit of the star, will steal gas from its unfortunate companion. Astronomers call these systems X-ray binaries:, The stolen stellar material is spilled a disk: which heats up to millions of degrees and emits X-rays before disappearing into the hungry ashes of a gravitational beast. Some of them X-ray binary appear as point-like sources Chandra image:
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Therefore: Black hole observed on X-rays. In contrast, the dead companion star can be viewed by astronomers through optical telescopes. Emission of energy of both black holes և: neutron stars are the same size և, which is why astronomers often find it difficult to distinguish between two objects.
Neutron stars are very dense, urban-sized remnants of a massive star that were destroyed in the fiery fireworks of a supernatural explosion. Indeed, neutron stars They are so thick that they are full of teaspoons neutron staritems can weigh as much as a school of whales. However, the huge stars that their descendants are neutron stars are not as massive as the stars that collapse to become black holes of stellar mass.
The good news is that neutron stars Some sports identification features. Neutron stars show differential rotation և can master ևmagnetic field տեղ localized explosions thermonuclear outbursts. When astronomers look at these fairytale properties, a compact object living in a binary system turns out to be neutron star– more than a black hole of stellar mass.
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The resulting masses come from observations compact X-ray sources which combine optical data with X-ray data. All neutron stars which have been found so far, show masses below 2.0 arcs. Nobody compact systems At masses higher than 2.0 solar masses observed, show the properties of a neutron star. Therefore, the combination of these properties makes the class more likely compact stars Sports masses higher than 2.0 solar masses are really real black holes of stellar mass.
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Our Galaxy accepts a few black hole of stellar mass candidates who live closer to Earth than: Sgr A *Most of these candidates are members X-ray binary systems in which the compact member of the duo steals stellar material from a partner storage disk.
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No hair

a Black hole– of any size – can be described as having only three properties. According to some so-called “There is no hair” theories, a Black hole has three basic properties: mass, electric charge և rotation (angular momentum). Scientists generally believe that all black holes are born in nature. However, a clear observation of this turn has not been recorded, at least not yet. The rotation of A. black hole of stellar mass due to the maintenance of the angular momentum of the mass prenatal star that produces it.

Gravitational collapse of a massive star is a natural process. Inevitably, when a huge star finally reaches the end of that long stellar journey, in which all its stellar energy sources are depleted, it will collapse under its own gravitational pull, and then “blow” into the fiery bays. big final supernova explosion. If the mass of the collapsing part of the prenatal star is lower than the limit neutron degraded material (Tolman-Oppenheimer-Volkoff – TOV – boundary), the end result is a compact star. A compact star can be or a white dwarf or a neutron star–but it may be also be a hypothetical stellar object called a quark star. However, if the prenatal star, which is in the process of collapsing, consumes more mass in sports than TOV limit:, intensive self-weighting will continue կշ will continue on: until it reaches zero volume և new black hole of stellar mass is born around that point in space.

According to Albert Einstein Theory of general relativity (1915), a Black hole any mass can exist in nature. The lower the mass, the higher the density of the material to give a Black hole. No known process can Black hole several times less blood mass. If there are: black holes in that small, anywhere in the universe, they are probably primitive black holes,

Over the past twenty years, astronomers have been able to gather enough evidence to support the idea that our ky is actually hosting its Milk. oversaturated the beast of darkness in his secret heart. There, hidden in the center of our galaxy, awaits his supper, a crushed star or a doomed gas cloud. Because this mysterious object is hidden close to our own planet, it provides valuable information to astronomers about the fascinating, disturbing, and puzzling weather of extreme severity. Because of this, Sgr A * also sheds a fascinating new light General relativityBecause: black holes Astronomers try to understand their exotic properties by observing the light emitted by opaque radiant gas (storage disk),

A treasury of stellar mass black holes

A team of astronomers led by Dr. Charles Haley of Columbia University in New York used the data. Chandra to catch X-ray binary which contain: black holes living nearby Sgr A *: Scientists have studied the X-ray spectrum of sources living in our Mil Milk at about 12 light-years (the number of X-rays viewed at different energies). oversaturated dark heart.

The team then selected sources that showed X-ray spectra, such as known sources X-ray binaries: which showed a relatively large number of low-energy X-rays. Using this technique, scientists were able to detect fourteen X-ray binaries: is about three light-years away Sgr A *: The X-ray duo is thought to contain: neutron stars. This probability is based on the detection of the characteristic neutron star eruptions seen in previous studies. Therefore, both sources have been removed from the analysis.

Dr. Hale և his team concluded that most of the others X-ray binary probably contain: black holes of stellar mass. The amount of variability displayed over the years varies from forecast to forecast X-ray binaries: Hosting: neutron stars.

Only the brightest X-ray binaries: Containing: black holes are found in the distance of the inhabitants of our galaxy a huge black hole is from the country. Therefore, the findings included in this study suggest that a significantly larger population of undiscovered, weaker X-ray binary (at least 300 to a thousand) hosts black holes of stellar mass in the surrounding common district Sgr A *:

This population: black holes, which have a close stellar companion Sgr A *, can shed new light on the mysterious formation X-ray binary from the close transitions between the stars և black holes of stellar mass. This discovery may also help in further studies of the gravitational wave. That’s because knowing their number black holes, hidden in the heart of a typical galaxy, can help astronomers better predict how many gravitational wave events may be associated with them. Gravity waves are waves in the texture of Spacetime և they give astronomers a new way to study the Universe.

Even larger population black holes of stellar masswho are lonely և no companion star who calls them should also eat nearby Sgr A *: According to a theoretical study by Dr. Alexei Generozov (Columbia University), there should be more than 10,000 black holes of stellar mass chasing our Mil in the dark heart hidden in his Dairy galaxy.

While Dr. Hale’s colleagues are in favor of it black hole of stellar mass They do not rule out the possibility that 50% of the observed sources are really the population. millisecond pulsars, A Millisecond pulse is a fast, regularly rotating newborn neutron star, fresh from the burial mound of its super star, which was destroyed by a bright explosion of a supernova. Millisecond pulsars possess very strong magnetic fields.

An article describing these results is published in the April 5, 2018 issue of the journal Nature:

In: Chandra X-ray Observatory It is a space observatory launched by NASA on July 23, 1999.

Gravitational Waves From Long Ago And Far, Far Away

After the late summer storm that blasted through the starlit twilight, the warm wind still continued to rage, causing ripples to form in the lingering puddles on the pavement–while the little girl watched in wonder. Ripples on water are similar to the ripples in the fabric of Spacetime–we call these ripples gravitational waves. Albert Einstein predicted the existence of gravitational waves in 1916 in his General Theory of Relativity, and these ripples travel at the speed of light through the Universe, carrying with them strange secrets long hidden about the birth of Space and Time. In February 2017, a team of theoretical astrophysicists announced that they have calculated the signal of specific gravitational wave sources that were born only fractions of a second after the Big Bang beginning of the Universe almost 14 billion years ago. The scientists propose that the origin of the signal is a long-lost, mysterious cosmological phenomenon called oscillon.

Einstein’s mathematics demonstrated that massive accelerating objects–such as binary neutron stars and black holes, as they orbited each other–would jumble Spacetime in such a dramatic way that “waves” of distorted Space would zip away from the source–just as ripples in a lingering puddle, left by torrents of rain after a summer storm, radiate through the pooled water. The speed of light sets something a universal speed limit. No known signal can travel faster than light through a vacuum. The ripples formed from gravitational waves propagate through Spacetime at the speed of light, taking along with them valuable information about their own cataclysmic origins–along with clues about the mysterious nature of gravity itself.

The most powerful gravitational waves of all are created by catastrophic events such as the explosive collapse of stellar cores (supernovae), the coalescing of stellar ghosts like dense neutron stars or white dwarfs, the violent collision of black holes, the wobbly rotation of neutron stars that are not in the shape of perfect spheres, and the lingering relics of the primordial gravitational radiation left to tell the ancient story of the birth of the Universe itself.

Even though Einstein predicted the existence of gravitational waves in 1915, it was not until 100 years later that their true existence in nature was actually proven. In the autumn of 2015, highly sensitive detectors received the gravitational waves that had been created during the violent merging of two black holes. Gravitational waves are unlike any other known waves. As gravitational waves ripple through the Universe, they alternately shrink and stretch the Spacetime continuum. This means that gravitational waves distort the geometry of the fabric of Space itself. Even though the accelerating masses emit gravitational waves, these can only be measured when the mass is extremely large–as it is, for example, with black holes or supernovae.

Hints of the possibility of finding these Spacetime waves were discovered back in 1974, 20 years after Einstein’s death. In that year, two astronomers, Dr. Russell Alan Hulse and Dr. Joseph Hooton, Taylor, Jr., working at the Arecibo Radio Observatory in Puerto Rico detected a binary pulsar–a duo of extremely dense and massive city-sized stellar relics in orbit around each other. The pulsar binary has been named for its two discoverers (the Hulse-Taylor Binary), but it is also commonly designated PSR B1913+16.

Pulsars are new-born neutron stars–and neutron stars are the lingering ghosts of massive stars that have gone supernova, leaving these celestial souvenirs behind to haunt the Cosmos, telling the tragic story of a star-that-was that is a star-no-more. Fresh young pulsars are born from the fiery supernova funeral pyres of their progenitor stars, and they are spinning wildly–emitting beams of light that are so regular they have been likened to the beams of a lighthouse on Earth.

PSR B1913+16 was precisely the type of system that, according to General Relativity, should send the ripples formed by gravitational waves out into Space. Knowing that this discovery of the binary pulsar system could be used to test Einstein’s prediction, the astronomers began to measure how the period of the stars’ orbits changed as time went by. After almost a decade of observations, it was determined that the two pulsars were dancing ever closer and closer to each other at exactly the rate predicted by General Relativity. This pulsar system has now been carefully watched for almost half a century, and the observed alterations in the orbit agree so perfectly with the predictions of General Relativity, there is little doubt left that it is emitting gravitational waves.

Since then, many astrophysicists have observed the timing of pulsar radio emissions and have had similar results. This further confirms the existence of these ripples in the fabric of Spacetime.

However, until recently, these confirmations always came from indirect studies or mathematical calculations–and not through the necessary direct “physical” observations. At last, on September 14, 2015, the LIGO Gravitational Wave Interferomenter directly picked up the distortions in Spacetime resulting from traveling, rippling gravitational waves. These Spacetime ripples were produced by the dancing duo of colliding black holes situated at the incredible distance of almost 1.3 billion light-years away! Certainly, this discovery will go down in history as one of the greatest achievements in science.

Gravitational waves can reach Earth, from where they are created, as the result of a catastrophic event in the remote Universe. This very first observation of their real existence in nature opens up an unprecedented new window into the well-kept secrets of the Cosmos. This is because propagating Spacetime ripples carry with them, during their long journey through the Universe, important information about their violent origins that otherwise could not be obtained by scientists in any other way. The reason for this is that gravitational waves can access regions of Space that electromagnetic waves fail to reach. Astrophysicists can now observe the Universe and its many well-kept secrets using gravity as an important tool–as well as light. Gravitational waves can provide scientists with extremely important information about exotic objects in the most secretive and distant regions of the Cosmos. For example, black holes cannot be observed using more traditional methods–such as radio and optical telescopes.

Therefore, gravitational wave astronomy provides a valuable method that scientists can use to gain a better understanding of how our weird, wonderful, and mysterious Universe operates. This is particularly true for scientific cosmologists because gravitational waves can enable them to observe the deep, dark secrets of the primordial Universe. This is not possible using conventional methods because, during our Universe’s babyhood, it was opaque to electromagnetic radiation. In addition, precise measurements of gravitational waves can be used by scientists to test Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity. By using gravitational waves, astrophysicists can come to a greatly improved comprehension of exactly what happened at the initial singularity, which is what is commonly believed to have given birth to the baby Universe about 13.8 billion years ago.

Fortunately for Earthlings, while the violent origins of gravitational waves can be catastrophically destructive, by the time the wandering waves finally reach our planet they are millions of times smaller and less destructive. Indeed, by the time gravitational waves, traveling out from the dancing black hole duo, were first discovered by LIGO, the amount of Spacetime wobbling generated was literally thousands of times smaller than the nucleus of an atom.

LIGO was originally proposed as a new way to find very elusive gravitational waves back in the 1980s. This proposal was first made by Dr. Rainer Weiss, professor of physics, emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT); Dr. Kip Thorne, the California Institute Of Technology’s (Caltech’s) Richard P. Feynman Professor of Physics, emeritus; and Dr. Ronald Drever, professor physics, emeritus, also from Caltech.

Wonderful, Wandering Waves

As a wandering gravitational wave passes a distant observer, the observer will watch in wonder as Spacetime becomes distorted by the bizarre effects of that propagating ripple. The distances that exist between free objects will increase, and then decrease, in a rhythmic way as the weird wave makes its journey–and as it travels it does so at a frequency that corresponds to that of the wave itself. The magnitude of this effect decreases inversely with distance from the catastrophic source of the wandering wave–born from such violent events as doomed duos of sister neutron stars, that are in the process of dancing ever closer and closer to one another, in a strange spiral ballet. The dance ends when the ballerinas blast into one another and merge, in a final grand finale of their catastrophic cosmic ballet. Unfortunately, because of the great distances to these sources of origin, the effects when measured by astrophysicists on our own planet are predicted to be quite small.

The twin Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO) detectors are located in Livingston, Louisiana and Hanford, Washington. The LIGO observatories were funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), and are operated, constructed, and invented by scientists at Caltech in Pasadena, California, and MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Based on the signals that they have detected, LIGO scientists proposed that the doomed black hole duo, that caused the catastrophic event, are 29 and 36 times the mass of our Sun–and that the dramatic collision and merger took place approximately 1.3 billion years ago. It is believed that about three times the mass of our Star was converted into rippling gravitational waves in only a fraction of a second–with the peak power output amounting to approximately 50 times that of the entire visible Universe. By observing the arrival time of the signals, the detector in Livingston recorded the event 7 milliseconds before its twin detector in Hanford. Scientists think that the event occurred in the Southern Hemisphere.

According to General Relativity, an unlucky black hole duo loses energy when it emits gravitational waves. This is the reason why the dancing black holes approach each other slowly over a lengthy time span of billions of years–and then pirouette more rapidly in their doomed danse macabre in the final moments of their fatal collision. Before the final act of this strange ballet, in the merest fraction of a second, the tragic duo blast into one another at half the speed of light. The result of this catastrophic collision is a solitary, and much more massive, black hole–converting a fraction of the combined black hole duo’s mass into energy, according to Einstein’s well-known formula E= mc squared. The energy is hurled out as a dramatic, final, and very powerful blast of gravitational waves–the very gravitational waves that LIGO detected.

Gravitational Waves From Long Ago And Far, Far Away!

Wandering gravitational waves offer scientists an insight into the birth of the Universe itself. In order to find out more about the primordial Universe, Professor Stefan Antusch and his team from the Department of Physics at the University of Basel in Switzerland are conducting research into what is known as the stochastic background of gravitational waves. This background is composed of gravitational waves traveling out from many sources that overlap with one another. When put together, the gravitational waves background provides a broad spectrum of frequencies. The Basel-based physicists calculate predicted frequency ranges and intensities for the Spacetime ripples, which can ultimately be tested in new experiments.

Soon after the Big Bang, the Universe that we observe today was very small–as well as extremely dense and searing-hot. “Picture something about the size of a football,” Dr. Antusch commented in a February 10, 2017 University of Basel Press Release. The entire primordial Universe was compressed into this extremely small space–and it was wildly turbulent. Modern scientific cosmology assumes that, at that very ancient time, the Universe was dominated by a particle known as the inflaton and its associated field.

The inflaton experienced some extremely intensive fluctuations, and also had certain special properties. For example, the inflatons merged together to create clumps that caused them to oscillate in certain localized regions of Space. These regions are termed oscillons, and they can be visualized in the mind’s eye as standing waves. “Although the oscillons have long since ceased to exist, the gravitational waves they emitted are omnipresent–and we can use them to look further into the past than ever before,” Dr. Antusch added.

Using numerical simulations, the theoretical physicist and his colleagues were able to calculate the shape of the oscillon’s signal, which was sent forth mere fractions of a second after the Universe was born in the Big Bang. This signal appears as a pronounced peak in the otherwise broad spectrum of the gravitational waves.

Dr. Antusch explained in the February 10, 2017 Basel University Press Release that “We would not have thought before our calculations that oscillons could produce such a strong signal at a specific frequency.”

Now, in a second step, the experimental physicists are planning to actually prove the real existence of the signal using detectors.

Spacetime Ripples Herald A Black Hole’s Birth

Imagine ripples propagating through a small pond in mid-summer, spreading through the glistening sunlit water from where a little boy has just tossed a pebble into the pond. The gravitational ripples that propagate through the fabric of Spacetime are similar to those ripples spreading through the Sun-warmed water of the pond, except that the ripples spreading through Spacetime–called gravitational waves–are generated when accelerated masses propagate as waves outward from their source at the speed of light. Now imagine that the water of the pond is the fabric of the Universe itself, through which the gravitational waves ripple. The most powerful gravitational waves of all propagate as the result of catastrophic events, such as the violent collision of a pair of dense stellar relics called neutron stars. In May 2018, a team of astronomers announced they have discovered that the spectacular, brilliant merger of a duo of neutron stars had generated gravitational waves–and probably did something else, as well, because their merger likely spawned a black hole that would be the lowest mass black hole ever detected.

The new study analyzed data derived from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, that had been obtained in the days, weeks, and months following the detection of rippling gravitational waves by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO), and gamma rays by NASA’s Fermi mission, on August 17, 2017. The twin LIGO detectors are located in Hanford, Washington and Livingston, Louisiana. The two observatories are funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), and were invented, constructed, and operated by scientists at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena, California. The Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope was launched on June 11, 2008 aboard a Delta II rocket. Fermi is a joint NASA, U.S. Department of Energy mission that also includes agencies in France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Sweden.

Almost every telescope available to professional astronomers had been used to observe the mysterious source of the tattle-tale gravitational waves, officially dubbed GW170817. Nevertheless, X-rays obtained from Chandra proved crucial for gaining a new understanding of what had actually happened after the two neutron stars had managed to crash into one another in a horrific merging event.

Neutron stars are the lingering cores of massive stars that perished in a brilliant, multicolored supernova fireworks display, after having used up their necessary supply of nuclear-fusing fuel. In the end, harboring a hard heart of iron that cannot be used for fuel, the heavy stars must meet their explosive doom. Neutron stars are city-sized, extremely dense spheres. Indeed, a teaspoon full of neutron-star-stuff can weigh as much as a pride of lions.

From the data derived from LIGO, astronomers were able to determine a good estimate of the mass of the neonatal black hole resulting from the neutron star merger. The team of scientists calculated that the black hole’s mass would be equivalent to about 2.7 times the mass of our Sun. This places the source on a fuzzy “tightrope” of undetermined identity. That is because this mass indicates that it can be either the most massive neutron star ever discovered or the lowest mass black hole. The previous record holders for the title of smallest known black hole are no less than approximately four or five times solar-mass.

Albert Einstein predicted the existence of gravitational waves in his Theory of General Relativity (1915), and these propagating ripples through the fabric of Spacetime take along with them, for the ride, long-lost secrets about the birth of the Universe.

Einstein’s mathematics demonstrates that massive accelerating bodies, such as neutron stars and black holes–as they orbit one another–can churn up Spacetime in such a dramatic way that the resulting ripples of distorted Space would fly away from their source. This is comparable to the way ripples in a pond propagate away from their place of origin. Gravitational waves travel at the speed of light, and the speed of light sets something of a universal speed limit. No known signal in the Universe can travel faster than light in a vacuum.

“While neutron stars and black holes are mysterious, we have studied many of them throughout the Universe using telescopes like Chandra. That means we have both data and theories on how we expect such objects to behave in X-rays,” explained Dr. David Pooley in a May 31, 2018 Chandra X-ray Observatory Press Release. Dr. Pooley, who led the study, is of Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas.

Gravitational waves were first proposed to exist by the French mathematician and theoretical physicist Henri Poincare (1854-1912) in 1905. Ten years later the existence of these Spacetime ripples were predicted by Einstein on the basis of General Relativity. Gravitational waves carry along with them energy in the form of gravitational radiation, a form of radiant energy akin to electromagnetic radiation. However, Sir Isaac Newton’s law of universal gravitation, part of classical mechanics, does not predict their existence. That is because this law is based on the assumption that physical interactions propagate instantaneously (at infinite speed), thus revealing one of the ways the methods of classical physics fail to explain phenomena associated with Relativity.

As a branch of observational astronomy, gravitational wave astronomy uses gravitational waves to obtain observational information concerning sources of detectable gravitational waves. These Spacetime ripples originate, for example, in binary stellar systems that are made up of white dwarfs, neutron stars, and black holes. Gravitational wave astronomy also provides important new information about supernovae explosions, as well as the birth and evolution of the primordial Universe soon after the Big Bang.

On February 11, 2016, the LIGO and Virgo Scientific Collaboration made the important announcement that they had succeeded in making the very first observation of the predicted Spacetime ripples. The actual observation was made on September 14, 2015, using the Advanced LIGO detectors. These first-to-be-detected gravitational waves originated from a duo of merging black holes. Soon after the initial announcement, the LIGO instruments spotted two more confirmed, and one potential, gravitational wave events. In August 2017, the two LIGO instruments, along with the Virgo instrument, spotted a fourth gravitational wave originating from merging black holes, as well as a fifth gravitational wave resulting from the merger of a duo of neutron stars that had originally composed a binary system before their smash-up.

The 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to Dr. Rainer Weiss (MIT), Dr. Kip Thorne (Caltech), and Dr. Barry Barrish (Caltech) for their work on the first detection of these Spacetime ripples.

Currently, there are several more gravitational wave detectors that are either under construction or in the planning stages.

Dancing Duos

As a traveling gravitational wave passes a faraway observer, the observer will stare in wonder as Spacetime itself becomes distorted due to the weird effects of that propagating ripple. The distances between free objects will first increase, and then decrease rhythmically, as the bizarre Spacetime ripple makes its incredible journey. As the gravitational wave travels, it does so at a frequency that corresponds to that of the wave itself. The magnitude of this strange effect decreases inversely with distance from the turbulent source of the propagating wave. The wandering Spacetime ripple formed as a result of a violent event–such as the merger of a duo of neutron stars. As a result, the two neutron stars dance ever closer–and closer–to one another, participating in a bizarre mesmerizing cosmic waltz. The weird waltz is over when the two dancers crash into one another and, as a result, merge–making their final farewell performance to the Universe. A black hole of stellar mass may be born as a result of this exotic, heavenly waltz of a doomed duo of neutron stars. Alas, as a result of the great distances that exist between Earth-bound observers and the dancing gravitational wave sources, the effects when measured by astrophysicists on our own planet are predicted to be small.

As gravitational waves ripple through the Universe, they alternately stretch and shrink the fabric of the Spacetime continuum. This means that these propagating ripples distort the geometry of the fabric of Space itself. Even though accelerating objects emit gravitational waves, these can only be measured by astrophysicists on Earth when the mass is very large.

Propagating gravitational waves provide astronomers with new insight into the mysterious birth of the Universe itself, enabling them to learn more and more about the primordial Cosmos. Soon after the inflationary Big Bang birth of the Universe, it was much smaller than what we see today–and it was also extremely hot and dense. Imagine something about the same size as a soccer ball. The entire primordial Universe was squashed into this extremely small space–and the soccer-ball-sized ancient Cosmos was a turbulent and violent place. Modern scientific cosmologists assume that, at this very ancient time, the Universe was dominated by a particle termed an inflaton and its associated field.

The first tantalizing hints of the possibility of discovering these Spacetime ripples came in 1974–twenty years after Einstein’s death. In that year, two astronomers, Dr. Russell Alan Hulse and Dr. Joseph Hootin Taylor, Jr., working at the Arecibo Radio Observatory in Puerto Rico, discovered a binary pulsar–a pair of extremely massive, dense Chicago-sized stellar relics in orbit around each other. The pulsar binary has been named after its two discoverers (the Hulse-Taylor Binary). However, it is also known by the telephone-book-sounding designation of PSR B1913+16.

Pulsars are baby neutron stars–and neutron stars are the relic cores of massive progenitor stars that blasted themselves to pieces in supernova explosions. Fresh newborn pulsars spin wildly, and send forth beams of light that are so regular that they are frequently compared to lighthouse beacons on Earth.

PSR B1913+16 was exactly the kind of stellar system that, according to General Relativity, should send ripples traveling into the space between stars. Realizing that this type of binary pulsar system could be used to test Einstein’s prediction, astronomers started to measure how the period of the stellar duo’s orbits altered over time. After almost ten years of observations, the researchers determined that the two pulsars were waltzing closer towards one another at precisely the rate predicted by Einstein in General Relativity. This pulsar binary has been studied for almost fifty years, and the observed changes in the orbit agree so well with General Relativity, that astronomers are certain that it is sending propagating ripples through Spacetime.

Since these early observations, many astrophysicists have studied the timing of pulsar radio emissions and have derived similar results, thus further confirming the existence of these waves rippling through the fabric of the Universe.

It was not until September 14, 2015, that the LIGO Gravitational Wave Interferometer directly detected the distortions in Spacetime caused by rippling gravitational waves. Up to that point, most of the evidence for their existence came from mathematical calculations or other indirect investigations. The first detected ripples were the result of a dancing duo of merging black holes located at the great distance of almost 1.3 billion light-years from Earth.

Gravitational waves can reach our planet from their distant places of origin. The very first direct observation of their real existence opens up a new vista that astronomers can use to uncover some of the Universe’s many mysteries. Gravitational waves take along with them important information about their turbulent places of birth that could otherwise not be obtained. These Spacetime ripples reveal regions of the Universe that electromagnetic waves are unable to access. Astrophysicists can now observe the Cosmos and its well-hidden mysteries using gravity as a tool–as well as light.

The Birth Of A Black Hole

If the merging neutron stars composing the GW170817 source had created a more massive neutron star, then Chandra would show it spinning rapidly and churning out an extremely powerful magnetic field. This would have then been followed by an expanding bubble composed of high-energy particles that produced a brilliant blast of X-ray emission. However, this is not what the Chandra data show. Instead, the information derived from Chandra show levels of X-rays that are a factor of a few to several hundred times lower than expected for a wildly spinning, merged neutron star duo and its assoiated bubble of high-energy particles. This indicates the birth of a black hole instead of a more massive neutron star.

If this result is confirmed, it would reveal that the secret recipe for cooking up a black hole can sometimes be rather complicated. In the case of GW170817, it would have required two supernova blasts to have left behind two neutron stars in a sufficiently close orbit for gravitational wave radiation to merge the neutron star duo together.

“We may have answered one of the most basic questions about this dazzling event: what did it make? Astronomers have long suspected that neutron star mergers would form a black hole and produce bursts of radiation, but we lacked a strong case for it until now,” explained study co-author Dr. Pawan Kumar in the May 31, 2018 Chandra Press Release. Dr. Kumar is of the University of Texas at Austin.

A Chandra observation two to three days following the merger did not detect a source. However, subsequent observations 9, 15, and 16 days following the event revealed important detections. The source traveled behind our Sun soon afterwards, but additional brightening was observed by Chandra about 110 days following the event. This brightening was then followed by comparable X-ray intensity after 160 days.

By comparing the data derived from Chandra observations to those taken by the NSF’s Jansky Very Large Array (VLA), Dr. Pooley and collaborators explain the observed X-ray emission as being caused entirely by shock waves resulting from the merger blasting into ambient gas. There is no sign of X-rays resulting from a newborn neutron star.

The claims by Dr. Pooley and team can be tested by upcoming X-ray and radio observations. If the remnant that the merger left behind does turn out to be a neutron star with a powerful magnetic field, then the source should continue to get much brighter at X-ray and radio wavelengths in about two years or so–when the bubble of high-energy particles at last catches up with the shock wave that would be slowing down. If it is indeed a baby black hole, astronomers expect it to continue to grow fainter and fainter. This has been recently observed as the shock wave weakens.

GW170817 is the astronomical event that keeps on giving. We are learning so much about the astrophysics of the densest known objects from this one event,” commented Dr. J. Craig Wheeler in the May 31, 2018 Chandra Press Release. Dr. Wheeler, a co-author on the study, is also of the University of Texas at Austin.

If follow-up observations spot a heavy neutron star as the survivor of the merger, such a discovery would challenge theories for the structure of neutron stars and how massive they can get.

“At the beginning of my career, astronomers could only observe neutron stars and black holes in our own Galaxy, and now we are observing these exotic stars across the Cosmos. What an exciting time to be alive, to see instruments like LIGO and Chandra showing us so many thrilling things nature has to offer,” said study co-author Dr. Bruce Grossan in the Chandra Press Release. Dr. Grossan is of the University of California at Berkeley.

A paper describing this research is published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.