An worldwide group of researchers, including the Australian global Gravitational Research Centre, is also investigating how to fine-tune the sensitivity of the gravitational waves detector, leading to improved detection of future gravitational waves and electromagnetic observational, and potentially more exotic sources.
As those two bowling balls - which represent black holes in this analogy - spin around one another, they create ripples in the sheet.
University of MS researchers involved with the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory Scientific Collaboration have confirmed that the worldwide partnership has made a third detection of gravitational waves, demonstrating that a new window in astronomy has been firmly opened.
What is most impressive about the latest detection is that it was made from a distance of about three billion light years, more than double the distances calculated during last year's detections.
The discovery published in the a paper in the journal Physical Review Letters is the third time echoes of gravitational waves have been directly observed.
If we think of spacetime as a massive pond, gravitational waves are the ripples that move across it when a stone is thrown in. In the process, they put general relativity to the test. "That will tell us about the extreme states of nuclear matter", Landry says. The newly formed black hole had a mass about 50 times that of our Sun, and the collision produced more power than is radiated as light by all the stars in the universe at any given time. "Hundreds of thousands of solar mass black holes, million solar mass black holes - the type of black holes at the centers of galaxies, and what you expect to merge when you have galaxy mergers". Its observations are carried out by twin detectors-one in Hanford, Washington, and the other in Livingston, Louisiana-operated by Caltech and MIT with funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF).
They're caused when colossal celestial objects crash together and then merge - a cataclysmic event that sets off vibrations through space and across time.
The black holes in the most recent detection are estimated to be 3 billion light-years away, while those found on previous occasions were located 1.3 and 1.4 billion light-years away. LIGO can "hear" objects like pairs of black holes, revealing even more of the universe than ever before.
"The University of MS is so pleased to be a member of this worldwide collaboration of talented scientists and engineers, which is producing such astounding breakthroughs", Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter said. The black holes would, as a result, maintain the spin of their former stars, which would have been aligned.
Before colliding, the binary black holes spotted earlier this year weighed in at 19 and 31 times our sun's mass. The sizes of the black holes are increased by a factor of two.
LIGO's first discovery of gravitational waves happened in September 2015.
The readings for GW170104 indicate that at least one of the black holes might have been spinning in a direction that was different from the two objects' orbital motion around each other. More observations with LIGO are needed to say anything definitive about the spins of black hole pairs, but these first events offer promising clues.
"That's either because heavy black hole spins are small, or because they're tilted, so their net effect cancels out", O'Shaughnessy said. The answer could help scientists understand the complexities of both stellar and black hole formation.
"In a press call announcing the discovery, Laura Cadonati of Georgia Tech talked about the black holes" spin. The first model proposes that the black holes are born together: they form when each star in a pair of stars explodes, and then, because the original stars were spinning in alignment, the black holes likely remain aligned. By combining results from multiple LIGO events, more precise constraints on deviations from the predictions of Einstein's theory were obtained.
According to relativity, all frequencies of gravitational waves should travel at the same speed. Dispersion is what happens when light passes through a prism to create a rainbow.
The researchers say their discovery adds further evidence to support Einstein's general theory of relativity and confirms the existence of previously unknown black holes.
"This paper only reports on a few weeks worth of data, and we plan to run until August", says Chad Hanna, a LIGO scientist from Pennsylvania State University. The new detection, called GW170104, occurred during LIGO's current observation period that began November 30, 2016, and concluded in early May, according to a news release about the discovery issued through LSU. "What's tremendous and exciting about it is that it's a completely new way of discovering things that we don't yet know". More than 1,000 scientists from around the world participate in the effort through the LIGO Scientific Collaboration, which includes the GEO Collaboration.
"A squeezed light source will be installed to manipulate the quantum nature of light and make the detectors even more precise measurement devices", she said.
Astronomers said Thursday they detected a third ripple in the fabric of space-time, a remnant of a cosmic crash of two black holes 3 billion years ago.