3 most common types of LIGO detections

LIGO’s detections of gravitational waves have ushered in a new era of astronomy, giving scientists a unique tool to study some of the most extreme objects in the universe. The discovery of binary black hole mergers, binary neutron star mergers, single black hole mergers, and the subsequent development of multi-messenger astronomy have all advanced our knowledge of the cosmos. With continued improvements in sensitivity and further observations, LIGO is poised to make even more groundbreaking discoveries in the years to come.

3 Most Common Types of LIGO Detections

The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, or LIGO, is a scientific collaboration between the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) aimed at detecting gravitational waves. Since its first detection in 2015, LIGO has detected numerous gravitational waves, giving us a deeper understanding of the universe’s workings. In this article, we will discuss the three most common types of LIGO detections.

1. Binary Black Hole Mergers

One of the most common types of detections by LIGO is the merger of two black holes. Black holes are formed from the remnants of massive stars that have exhausted their nuclear fuel and collapsed under their own weight. When two black holes orbit each other, they emit gravitational waves, causing their orbit to decay over time. Eventually, they merge into a single black hole, releasing a burst of gravitational waves that LIGO can detect.

Binary black hole mergers are one of the most important discoveries of LIGO, as they provide insight into the properties of black holes and the laws of gravity. By studying the waveform of the detected gravitational waves, scientists can determine the masses and spins of the black holes involved in the merger, as well as their distance from Earth.

2. Binary Neutron Star Mergers

Another common type of detection by LIGO is the merger of two neutron stars. Neutron stars are extremely dense remnants of supernova explosions that are typically only a few miles in diameter but have a mass greater than that of the sun. When two neutron stars merge, they also emit gravitational waves that can be detected by LIGO.

The detection of a binary neutron star merger in 2017 was a groundbreaking discovery, as it not only provided further evidence for the existence of gravitational waves but also allowed scientists to study the origin of heavy elements like gold and platinum. The collision of the two neutron stars produced a burst of gamma rays that was detected by space-based telescopes, allowing scientists to pinpoint the location of the event and study it in more detail.

3. Single Black Hole Mergers

The third most common type of detection by LIGO is the merger of a black hole with a much smaller object, such as a neutron star or a white dwarf. When a black hole merges with a smaller object, it produces a weaker burst of gravitational waves than a binary black hole merger, but it still produces a distinctive waveform that can be detected by LIGO.

The detection of a single black hole merger in 2020 was significant because it was the first time LIGO had detected a gravitational wave from such an event. It is also an essential discovery because it provides evidence for the existence of intermediate-mass black holes, which are believed to exist but have never been directly observed.