What happens when Black Holes Collide | Summary and Q&A

December 13, 2013
World Science Festival
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What happens when Black Holes Collide


Gravitational waves emitted during the collision and merger of black holes provide valuable information about their behavior and properties.

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Questions & Answers

Q: What is the significance of gravitational waves emitted during the collision of black holes?

Gravitational waves from black hole collisions carry valuable information about their mass, behavior, and properties. Analyzing these waveforms can help us understand the dynamics of these events.

Q: How do we decipher the information encoded in gravitational waveforms?

Gravitational wave astronomy aims to measure and decipher these waveforms. By comparing observed waveforms with simulation dictionaries generated through supercomputer simulations, scientists can extract valuable information about the black holes involved.

Q: What are the different frequency bands in which gravitational waves are expected to be detected?

There are four frequency bands expected to detect gravitational waves: a high-frequency band (10-10,000 Hertz) where ground-based detectors like LIGO operate, a low-frequency band (few minutes to a few hours) observed by the Lisa space antenna, a very low-frequency band (months to years) studied by Andrea Lman's team, and an extremely low-frequency band analyzed using the polarization of the cosmic microwave background.

Q: How long do gravitational wave events typically last?

The duration of gravitational wave events varies depending on the mass of the black holes involved. If the black holes weigh a few times the mass of the Sun, the event will last a fraction of a second. However, if they are massive black holes at the center of a galaxy, the event may last a few hours.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Gravitational waves are emitted when two black holes spiral, collide, and merge, creating a highly intense event in the universe.

  • These waves carry a massive amount of Luminosity, equivalent to 10,000 times the Luminosity emitted by all the stars in the universe combined.

  • Detailed numerical simulations on supercomputers help understand and analyze the complex waveforms emitted during these violent events.

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