Chris Van Den Broeck: "This one is special"

Virgo and LIGO detect new kind of black hole

An astrophysical first for gravitational wave detectors Virgo and LIGO. The detector in Italy and the two detectors in the US have found direct evidence of the existence of medium black holes in the Universe. The research teams conclude this from a space-time vibration that was collected on May 21, 2019.

Today the researchers publish two articles analyzing the signal called GW190521. The space-time vibration, according to those analyzes, comes from two merging black holes estimated to be 66 and 85 times the mass of the sun. This created a new black hole about 142 times the mass of the sun.


Prof. Chris Van Den Broeck (UU/Nikhef) is one of the scientists involved in the research. “By now we have already seen about fifty binary black hole signals, but this one is special. At least one of the two black holes that merged had such a large mass that with our current understanding, it could not have been formed from the collapse of an ordinary star.”

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Press release by Nikhef