What Does It Sound Like When Black Holes Smash Into Each Other?

SeekerPublished: August 10, 2018Updated: August 11, 2018
Published: August 10, 2018Updated: August 11, 2018

If two black holes collide in space and nobody’s around to hear it, did they make a sound? It turns out, yes, and we can hear them with the help of a supercomputer. Every few minutes a pair of black holes smash into each other. When black holes collide, also known as black hole mergers, they cause ripples that travel through spacetime. This is what we call gravitational waves.

As you may have heard, 2015 marked the first time we were able to detect gravitational waves, arguably one of the biggest astronomical discoveries of the 21st century and confirmation of Einstein’s 1915 theory of general relativity. While there are some gravitational-wave producing events that are distinctly measurable--that we have observed and recorded--there’s also what researchers call the gravitational-wave background. This is basically background noise resulting from all the hundreds of thousands of gravitational-wave producing events, like black hole collisions, that we can’t distinguish individually because our equipment isn’t sensitive enough to discern them. This video, "What Does It Sound Like When Black Holes Smash Into Each Other?", first appeared on seeker.com.

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