For the First Time Ever, Astronomers Spot Light From a Black Hole Smash-up
Black holes aren’t supposed to leak any light when they smash into each other—or at least that’s what physicists thought.
On May 21, 2019, astronomers using the Virgo interferometer and the National Science Foundation’s Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) detected a gravitational wave signature consistent with a black hole merger. This event, called S190521g, at first seemed to produce no visible light.
A subsequent review of data collected at a separate observatory, Caltech University’s Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF), has yielded evidence of light coming from this same event, which, if confirmed, would be a first for astronomy. This research, led by astronomer Matthew Graham from Caltech, now appears in Physical Review Letters.