In an announcement from the G7 Ministerial meeting on science in Turin on Wednesday, the collaboration announced it had not only detected the merger of two black holes: it had also narrowed down the source region to a relatively small sliver of the night sky.
“That’s a puzzle we will have to come to grips with. Perhaps there are other things at play that drain the black holes of spin.” The merger was detected on August 14, making it the fourth detection of a binary black hole system since the first was detected by LIGO in September 2015.
The newly produced spinning black hole has about 53 times the mass of our sun, according to LIGO. The additional triangulation offered by having three instruments, rather than two, allows scientists to locate the source of the wave with 20 times the precision, Virgo spokesperson Jo van den Brand said at the announcement.
After a gravitational wave is detected, LIGO sends an alert to other telescopes and tells them where in the sky a significant event has occurred. “We didn’t see anything , because black holes don’t emit light.” But there’s potential for other mergers that emit observable matter to be viewed in real-time.
“Having Virgo helps us create better sky maps, and also helps with other measurements,” she said.