This discovery is a big deal as it is going to change the way we understand the universe. How so?
Well, this new information questions the knowledge astronomers already know/have about the formation of black holes and how the universe functions.
Jani, who works as a research professor in Vanderbilt University in the US, and his team made the announcement of the discovery on Wednesday. In a statement he said:
This discovery will not just change the way we study the universe but also understand its complexities further. In astronomy, it has always been believed that black holes are formed due to gravitational collapse of the stars. But the black hole we discovered wasn’t formed due to any star’s collapse or blast.
This finding will also open possibilities of studying how many black holes would have been formed within our universe, till date. Jani further said:
Our universe is making black holes in some different way and now we might be able to understand the missing cycles in a star’s life. It will have an impact on astronomy studies.
Named GW190521, scientists discovered the black hole in May in 2019 through LIGO and the Virgo gravitational wave detectors but, they patiently studied it for about an year before drawing conclusions.
You see, black holes are generally either less than 100 times the size of the sun or thousands of times bigger than it.
But, this was the first black hole that was of intermediate size and was 142 times bigger than the mass of the sun. In fact, this particular black hole that they stumbled upon was older than the sun.
As per traditional astronomy, there is a limit to the mass of a black hole that forms when a star dies, but this 'alien' black hole far exceeds that theoretical limit as it is 142 times bigger than the sun's mass.
While scientists are still unsure of how the black hole came into existence and how such a powerful blast might have been sent out when it was formed, this revelation will surely change their perspective of how they looked at black holes and the universe as a whole.
This discovery might also give clues into how the supermassive black holes that sit at the centre of some galaxies were formed. Alan a LIGO member said:
This event opens more questions than it provides answers. From the perspective of discovery and physics, it's a very exciting thing.
No matter how it was formed, the black hole has already broken a host of records. Firstly, it is the most distant and oldest ever detected, with the gravitational waves taking seven billion years to arrive on Earth.
And secondly, it is also the most massive black hole ever observed through gravitational waves.