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Important LIGO discovery by Vicky Kalogera, Christopher Berry & Chase Kimball

September 3, 2020

The LiGO-VIRGO Collaboration just announced the discovery of two intermediate-mass black holes merging. The incoming black holes had masses of 85 and 66 Msolar while the final state black hold has mass 142 Msol. This discovery is significant because theoretical prejudice disfavors the formation of black holes in this mass range (tens to hundreds of Msol). The implication is that there is something wrong with the theory or that something very anomalous explains this event. Two papers published on this discovery appear in PRL and ApJL.

Chase Kimball, a student advised by Vicky Kalogera, contributed to the paper interpreting the data. Christopher Berry, a research professor in CIERA, was an editorial reviewer for the discovery paper.

This important result nicely illustrates how gravitational wave-based astronomy continues to reveal new things about the universe after the initial observations of a black hole merger in 2016. It also shows the important role of the Northwestern gravitational wave team, led by Vicky. They have been studying mergers for several years.

See more in Northwestern News.

Congratulations, Chase, Christopher, and Vicky!!


Related Sources:
Astronomy Now: “Gravitational wave observatories detect biggest black hole merger yet”
The New York Times: “These Black Holes Shouldn’t Exist, but There They Are”
Nature: “‘It’s mindboggling!’: astronomers detect most powerful black-hole collision yet”