Black Hole Collision Merge NASA
Astronomers may have seen witnessed for the first time light from the merger of two black holes. More specifically, a supermassive black hole surrounded by a disk of gas and within this disk are two smaller black holes that could have merged together to form a new one. Typically when two black holes spiral around each other and eventually collide, they send out gravitational waves, which are invisible to telescopes and other light-detecting instruments used by astronomers. Read more for a video about black hole collisions and additional information.

Theorists concocted several ideas about how a black hole merger could produce a light signal by causing nearby material to radiate. Now, they are using Caltech’s Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF) located at Palomar Observatory near San Diego to search for such a scenario. If one of these events is confirmed, it would be the first known light flare from a pair of colliding black holes.

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The merger was identified on May 21, 2019, by two gravitational wave detectors – the National Science Foundation’s Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory, or LIGO, and the European Virgo detector – in an event called GW190521g. That detection allowed the ZTF scientists to look for light signals from the location where the gravitational wave signal originated. These gravitational wave detectors have also spotted mergers between dense cosmic objects called neutron stars, and astronomers have identified light emissions from those collisions,” said NASA.