Three years ago, astrophysicists electrified the world when they discovered that gravitational waves – infinitely large ripples in space – began to move when two huge black holes spun into each other and blended around 1.3 billion light-years. The ability to detect gravitational waves opened a new window on the cosmos, and since then physicists have seen a dozen fusion with black holes and a fusion of two dense neutron stars. But physicists had not yet used such observations to test the properties of black holes.

A team of theoretical astrophysicists has used data from the first event – discovered with the two instruments of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) in Hanford, Washington and Livingston, Louisiana – to investigate the last fused black hole. They decipher his oscillations just as a pianist would think of a chord, they confirmed – albeit with modest precision – a prediction of Albert Einstein’s gravity, called tea hair.

“It’s really beautiful, you really want to see this,” said Daniel Holz, an astrophysicist and member of the LIGO team at the University of Chicago, Illinois, who was not involved in the analysis.

Black Hole

A black hole is the ultra-intense gravitational field that remains when a sufficiently massive star collapses under its own weight to an infinite point. Within a certain distance from the point nothing can escape, not even light, so the black hole forms an ink-black sphere. It has a clear – and huge – mass, and it can rotate like a peak – usually at a reasonable fraction of the speed of light.

Otherwise, a black hole must be superfluous, says Einstein’s gravity theory, general theory of relativity. According to the theory, information that falls into a black hole is lost. This means that a black hole cannot figure out how it originated, says Saul Teukolsky, a theoretical astrophysicist at Cornell University. This confirmation is known as a non-hair theorem because the famous American theorist John Archibald Wheeler said it meant that black holes were as recognizable as bald pates.

Theorem testing is not easy. Astronomers have seen isolated black holes, but they cannot see their hot, covered surfaces. (It is the temperature of this hot gas that reveals the presence of a black hole.) Observations with gravitational waves open a new way to test the theorem, because the violent fusion of black holes produces a larger black hole, such as waves such as Jell shaken. . -O, radiating gravitational waves. The use of the waves to measure the frequencies of these floating oscillations provides a way to test the no-theorem.

The most important clues are hidden in so-called overtones, frequencies that are generally lower and die out faster than the most important surviving ones. But measuring it seemed an unattainable goal because scientists assumed they would have to wait until the original chaos of the ringtone died. At that time, the overtones could not be detected for LIGO and its partner, the virgin gravity detector in Italy. Last summer, however, Matthew Giesler, a graduate student at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, used simulations to show that the entire fusion back to the moment of collision could be interpreted as the simple sum of the basic signal and the overtones of the most important modes. “It was a surprise for everyone,” says Teukolsky.

When Teukolsky, Giesler, and colleagues re-analyzed the signal of the first black hole merger, they found the first overtone they reported in the Physical Review Letters yesterday. The frequency and duration are consistent with the predictions of general relativity – supporting the theory without it. In particular, they point to capturing and running that suits them, from computer simulations of the entire event, based on general relativity theory, to 10%. This concordance supports the idea, in general theory of relativity, that these are the only parameters that characterize the last black hole. “That’s what I’d call a real test of the expression without her,” says Teukolsky.

Holz, however, calls for caution and notes that the evidence of the overtones is not very strong to require definitive observation. “It is very exciting, but to say that they have demonstrated that the sentence is correct without her? I wouldn’t say it that way. “Ultimately, he says, the goal is to measure multiple states and show that they relate to each other, as the general theory of relativity predicts – or not. Such “black hole spectroscopy” may have to wait for the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna, a much more sensitive space-based gravitational wave detector that researchers hope to launch in the early 2030s, Holz said.

But Teukolsky says that the analysis suggests that spectroscopy with black holes can be within reach. Given improvements in the sensitivity of the LIGO detectors, he says, it is possible that even a very powerful black hole fusion could reveal more overtones. “We can even hope to see something twice as close as the first merger.”

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