Collisions between black holes are so intense that they can alter the fabric of space-time, releasing powerful gravitational waves that can traverse the cosmos. Some of these waves will reach Earth, and scientists can track them with the help of detectors.
While this detectors offer the opportunity to identify the fact that the collision took place, it is considerably harder to observe the visible aspects of the event as a black hole consumes everything that can be found around them, including light.
A remarkable coincidence
In May 2019, a gravitational wave was detected by the LIGO facilities located in the US and Italy. The signal suggested that two black holes had collided in a distant segment of space. Surprisingly, the Zwicky Transient Facility found at the Palomar Observatory in California was inspecting the area at the same time.
An analysis of the collected data has revealed a flare that took place at the same time. A team of astronomers decided to explore the data in-depth, creating a study that details the connection between what LIGO detected and the information provided by the ZTF. If the theory proposed by the team is correct, it will mark a major milestone.
Predictions and theories
A significant part of the study is based on a theory that argues that black hole mergers tend to take place in the accretion disks, which can be found around supermassive black holes. Within the accretion disk there is region filled with gas, stars, black holes that contribute to the magnitude of the collisions.
It is thought that the two black holes merged in the accretion disk, warming the gas and debris that floated around them, creating a massive shock front that will trigger a flare. Similar flares have been observed in the past. Further research will take place while the study has been published in a scientific journal.