Space-time ripples forged in the heart of our Milky Way
Giant black holes may be having a previously unknown influence on other black holes and gravitational waves
A new study suggests gravitational waves are created by black holes in the centre of most galaxies. According to Joseph Fernandez, a PhD student at Liverpool John Moores University, massive black holes can change the orbits of binary black holes – that is, those which orbit around each other in pairs.
When this happens, the black hole binary systems become tight and eccentric, forcing them to merge much faster than they otherwise would. This, Fernandez theorises, leads to observable gravitational waves. It could also, a statement suggests, flip the binary system orbital plane, making the black holes orbit in the opposite direction to their initial conditions.
The study goes some way to explaining how black hole mergers form by pulling them into very close or very eccentric orbits in order to collapse in a way that makes gravitational waves (small ripples in space-time that spread throughout the universe) much more observable.
Sagittarius A* is the black hole at the centre of the Milky Way