The first discoveries of neutron stars swallowed by black holes

Artistic representation inspired by a merger event between a black hole and a neutron star – © Carl Knox/OzGrav/Swinburne

As detection of gravitational waves caused by collisions between two black holes or two neutron stars has become almost common, events involving these two types of celestial bodies have been identified for the first time.

Two events ten days apart

In the context of the work published in the magazine Astrophysical Journal Letters, astronomers have officially identified the existence of a black hole devouring a neutron star twice. The gravitational waves (or ripples in space-time) caused by these cataclysmic events, occurring a few days apart, traveled more than 900 million light-years before hitting Earth’s detectors.

the name of the thing GW200105The first two collisions were detected on January 5, 2020 by the observatory Virgo, On Italy, and one of the two detectors that make up the gravitational wave observatory lego, to me United State (The second detector lego was temporarily out of service). This involves Black hole About 8.9 times greater than Soleil After I swallowed a neutron star 1.9 solar masses.

Observed on January 15, 2020 thanks to the help of the three detectors, the second event is called GW200105, this time involved a black hole 5.7 times larger than our star, having swallowed a neutron star of 1.5 solar masses. Yeah lego Previously discovered other events that could be collisions between black holes and neutron stars, the researchers explained that these two new discoveries are clearer and more specific.

Simulation of a neutron star and black hole merger

Because the two events were so far apart, astronomers were unable to spot any light in the sky from the collisions. But this would also have been the case if they were closer, since black holes were much larger than neutron stars. ” Simulations indicate that the neutron star has been completely submerged by the black hole, not shredded ‘, he explains Astrid Lamberts, Team members lego to meObservatory of the Cote d’Azur (OCA).

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Towards a better understanding of these strange mixed couples

These observations can help us understand how mixed couples Very strange form. A black hole and a neutron star can arise as a pair, of stars that already orbit each other, or meet later in their lives. Although some evidence suggests that the latter hypothesis could apply to the second detection, the team stresses that the available data do not allow us to be certain.

The next round of observation lego It’s expected to debut in mid to late 2022. So we should be able to discover more of these strange pairs at that time, as well as other types of creatures.

« We have already observed binary black holes and binary neutron stars, and now we have conclusive evidence of binary systems consisting of these two celestial bodies. ‘, it was highlighted الضوء Nelson Christensen, also works inOCA. « Now we need a spinning supernova or a pulsar. This will be the next big step. »

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