Astronomers have detected a gravitational wave from a black hole so massive that existing theories suggest it shouldn’t exist.
The black hole that formed from the merger that sent the gravitational wave through space is 142 times the mass of the Sun, making it the most massive ever to be observed with gravitational waves. And the energy that it released through the universe is the equivalent to around eight solar masses, spreading out across the universe.
“This doesn’t look much like a chirp, which is what we typically detect,” said Nelson Christensen, a researcher at the French National Center for Scientific Research who helped pick up the signal. “This is more like something that goes ‘bang,’ and it’s the most massive signal LIGO and Virgo have seen.”
Scientists are still unsure how the black hole could have been created, and how such a powerful blast might have been sent out, despite years of work spent hunting the black holes.
“The system we’ve discovered is so bizarre that it breaks a number of previous assumptions about how black holes form,” said Karan Jani, a researcher from Vanderbilt University who was involved in the research, in a statement. “We took more than a year to confirm this alien black hole’s existence and are thrilled to be sharing this discovery with the world.”
One possibility is that the black hole was formed when two smaller black holes collided to make larger one, which then found a third black hole for yet another even larger collision. The chance of such an event happening is smaller than hitting a golf ball from China and another from Argentina and seeing them collide in the air.
The discovery could pose deep questions about fundamental questions of the universe, as well as giving clues into how the supermassive black holes that sit at the center of some galaxies were able to form.
Read more: Independent