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Riled Up is a journal of science, the environment, exploration, new technology, and related commentary.  Contributors include scientists, explorers, engineers, and others who provide perspectives and context not typically offered in general news circulation.  For interested readers, additional resources are included.

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When Black Holes Collide
Hugh Bollinger
/ Categories: science, Media, video, Travel

When Black Holes Collide

First image captured of a black hole. (credit: LIGO/JPL/NASA/NSF)

What happens when 2 black holes collide? The physics is very complicated but computer modelers have an idea and have created a simulation. According the NASA, a new computer simulation has fully incorporated the physical effects of Einstein's theory of relativity showing that gas and dust in such situations will glow in wavelengths of the ultraviolet and X-ray.

In 2015, an astronomy instrument known as LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory) captured the first image of a black hole by measuring waves of gravity traveling at the speed of light. The waves were created when massive objects like black holes spiral into each other and merge. Ground-based observatories can't detect gravitational waves because the Earth itself creates distortions from seismic vibrations and atmospheric disturbances. Gravitational detectors need to be in space and monitored from the ground,

Super-massive binary black holes, nearing collision, are likely surrounded by large quantities of gas and dust that could help in detecting the merger. The two gigantic objects resulted from the black hole at the center of each galaxy combining, carrying along galactic volumes of gas and dust. As the two black holes near colliding, magnetic and gravitational forces will heat this surrounding material, producing light that astronomers should be able to see.

The NASA simulation shows a pair of super-massive black holes only a few orbits away from combining. The models reveals the light interactions produced at this stage of the process may be mostly in the ultraviolet along with some high-energy X-rays. Three regions of light-emitting gases will glow as the black holes merge, all being connected by streams of hot gas. A large ring will encircle the entire system with two smaller rings around each black hole. All the objects emit UV light.

If the black hole data and its computer modeling is correct, it may be less than 3 years before the collision takes place. Let's just say the lightshow could be pretty 'spacey'. WHB

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