black hole merger simulation
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How merging black holes warp space

An international collaboration has announced a historic detection of ripples in space-time.

These "gravitational waves" - miniscule, rhythmic distortions in the fabric of our Universe - were sent radiating across space by a cataclysmic event: the merging of two huge black holes.

When the ripples reached Earth, the jolt they delivered was only a tiny fraction of the width of an atom, but that was more than enough for the 4km laser beams of the LIGO detectors in Louisiana and Washington, US.

This animation shows a simulation of how that merger unfolded.

Video by SXS (Simulating eXtreme Spacetimes)

  • 11 Feb 2016