Monumental Collision of “Impossible” Black Holes Detected for the First Time

Binary Black Holes About to Collide

Artist’s impression of binary black holes about to collide. Credit: Mark Myers, ARC Centre of Excellence for Gravitational Wave Discovery (OzGrav)

The most massive black hole collision ever detected has been directly observed by the LIGO and VIRGO Scientific Collaboration, which includes scientists from The Australian National University (ANU).

The short gravitational wave signal, GW190521, captured by the LIGO and Virgo gravitational wave observatories in the United States and Europe on May 21 last year, came from two highly spinning, mammoth black holes weighing in at a massive 85 times and 66 times the mass of the Sun, respectively.

But that is not the only reason this system is very special. The larger of the two black holes is considered “impossible.” Astronomers predict that stars between 65 – 130 times the mass of the Sun undergo a process called pair instability, resulting in the star being blown apart, leaving nothing behind.

With a mass of 85 solar masses, the larger black hole falls squarely in that forbidden range, referred to as the upper black hole mass gap, and should be “impossible.” So if it wasn’t created by the collapse of a star, how did it form?

“We think of black holes as the vacuum cleaners of the Universe. They suck in everything in their paths, including gas clouds and stars,” said Professor Susan Scott from the ANU Research School of Physics, a co-author on the publication.

“They also suck in other black holes and it is possible to produce bigger and bigger black holes by the ongoing collisions of earlier generations of black holes. The heavier `impossible’ black hole in our detected collision may have been produced in this way.”

The two black holes merged when the Universe was only about seven billion years old, which is roughly half its present age. They formed an even larger black hole weighing a whopping 142 times the mass of the Sun, by far the largest black hole ever observed through gravitational-wave observations.

Black holes of mass 100 to 100,000 solar masses are called intermediate mass black holes (IMBHs). They are heavier than stellar mass black holes but lighter than supermassive black holes often located at the centers of galaxies. There have been no conclusive electromagnetic observations for IMBHs in the mass range 100 to 1,000 solar masses.

“The `impossible’ black hole formed by the collision lies in the black hole desert between 100 and 1,000 times the mass of the Sun,” Professor Scott, who is also the Chief Investigator with the ARC Centre of Excellence for Gravitational Wave Discovery (OzGrav), said.

“We are very excited to have achieved the first direct observation of an IMBH in this mass range. We also saw how it formed, confirming that IMBHs can be produced through the merger of two smaller black holes.”

Another recent study suggests scientists using Caltech’s Zwicky Transient Facility may have spotted a light flare from the collision. This is surprising, as black holes and their mergers are normally dark to telescopes. One theory is the system may have been orbiting a supermassive black hole. The newly formed black hole may have received a kick from the collision, shooting off in a new direction and surging through the disk of gas surrounding the supermassive black hole, causing it to light up. While it is unlikely that the GW190521 detection originated from the same event as the flare, researchers say the possibility that it might have been is intriguing.

“There are a number of different environments in which this system of two black holes could have formed, and the disk of gas surrounding a supermassive black hole is certainly one of them,” OzGrav postdoctoral researcher, Dr. Vaishali Adya from ANU, said.

“But it is also possible that this system consisted of two primordial black holes that formed in the early Universe.

“Every observation we make of two black holes colliding gives us new and surprising information about the lives of black holes throughout the Universe. We are beginning to populate the black hole mass gaps previously thought to exist, with `impossible’ black holes that have been revealed through our detections.”

More on this research:


“GW190521: A Binary Black Hole Merger with a Total Mass of 150  M⊙” by R. Abbott et al. (LIGO Scientific Collaboration and Virgo Collaboration), 2 September 2020, Physical Review Letters.
DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.125.101102

“Properties and Astrophysical Implications of the 150 Solar Mass Binary Black Hole Merger GW190521” by R. Abbott, T. D. Abbott, S. Abraham, F. Acernese, K. Ackley, C. Adams, R. X. Adhikari, V. B. Adya, C. Affeldt, M. Agathos … and LIGO Scientific Collaboration and Virgo Collaboration, 2 September 2020, Astrophysical Journal Letters.
DOI: 10.3847/2041-8213/aba493

28 Comments on "Monumental Collision of “Impossible” Black Holes Detected for the First Time"

  1. Bullshit. There are no black holes. update your research.

  2. Your Dad's Dad Aka Grandad | September 6, 2020 at 7:31 pm | Reply

    Stephen, go tackle a train ya bloody spanner.

  3. Agreed Stephen. This is just pure nonsense. Much more plausible explanation:

    • Torbjörn Larsson | September 7, 2020 at 9:14 am | Reply

      A link to known pseudoscience. Grow up.

      • Torbjörn Larsson | September 7, 2020 at 9:16 am | Reply

        Oops. In case you are length challenged: get real. Since if you are challenged by reality, you can first learn how to learn and then learn about reality.

        • Recent Article Titles:

          Hubble Trouble: A Crisis In Cosmology?
          Why Cosmology’s Expanding Universe Controversy Is An Even Bigger Problem Than You Realize
          A Crisis In Cosmology
          Hubble Spots Ancient Spiral Galaxy That Should Not Exist
          The Star That Should Not Exist
          Newfound Super-Bright Neutron Star Baffles Scientists and Should Not Exist
          Meet The Planet Astronomers Say Shouldn’t Be There
          Biggest Thing In Universe Found – Defies Scientific Theory
          The Very First Stars Formed Too Fast For Our Cosmological Models, New Evidence Shows
          Within Months, 6 Quiet Galaxies Became Blazing Quasars and Scientists Don’t Know How
          Monster Black Hole Found in the Early Universe, Challenging Current Theories
          Massive Quasars From The Dawn Of Time Defy Theoretical Models Of Black Hole Formation

          See a pattern here? And titles like this go on and on and on and on ad nauseum, and come out on a weekly, even daily basis. So seriously, you can’t see that something is terribly amiss in standard cosmology?

          Electricity has been scientifically validated in every way imaginable, and that validation includes creating gamma rays, x-rays, etc, magnetic fields, columnated jet streams, and many of the other things that are being observed in space. So yeah, I’ll pick a validated science applied to space over the confusion, contradiction, and constant surprise of imagination based musings.

          • Torbjörn Larsson | September 8, 2020 at 8:32 am |

            Well, that says nothing – the pattern I see is that of you Gish galloping advances as problems. But this is how science works.

            There is nothing in there about black holes except a link to this same discoveries that the article discuss [“Monster Black Hole Found in the Early Universe, Challenging Current Theories”]. That shows that you admit to that your pseudoscience link was not useful.

          • Torbjörn Larsson | September 8, 2020 at 8:53 am |

            “this same discoveries that the article discuss” – oops, no, not even that.

      • LOL. Yes, very mature. Ok. Perhaps then another link. This one by scientists using DOE who have recreated the sun in a lab based on what you are calling pseudoscience. Clearly supports an electric sun model on every level, and by extension an electric universe. I know laboratory testing at the highest level of science to support or discard scientific assertions underlying theories may be quite foreign to those more comfortable with exotic non-sensical mathematics and imaginative nonsense like black holes and dark this and thats, all of which have absolutely no basis in laboratory testing. So, which is the pseudoscience, the one based on imagination and nonsensical math, or the one based on exacting experiments and laboratory validation?

        • Torbjörn Larsson | September 8, 2020 at 8:40 am | Reply

          More pseudoscience, this time not connected to the first link but on “cold fusion”, which do not exist. This doesn’t either, I saved myself some time and looked it up on RationalWiki, which also explain the idea of a link to the pseudoscience you wanted to push:

          “The International Science Foundation (a front group of EU supporters who falsely claim to neither support nor oppose[20] the Electric Universe hypothesis) says that they provided $2,200,000 USD to fund a laboratory experiment to test the EU claims regarding the nature of the Sun.[21] There is no independent analysis of their work and no publications about SAFIRE found on Google Scholar. The SAFIRE Project is housed in Mississauga, Ontario, and is documented in videos [22] from the EU2016 conference. They say that their intent is to compare the results of this experiment to the results of NASA’s Solar Probe Plus mission[23], and thereby demonstrate whether the EU solar model has any grounding in reality.”

          [ ]

          This is an old bogus operation [2016]. So no results, either scientific or (snake oil) commercial.

          • Science does not work by constantly acknowledging that “reality” as you say is not fitting into their theories, but then just continuing to assert that those theories, ie black holes etc, are still viable explanations of reality. To say that things should not exist because they don’t fit into your theory is a ludicrous, totally non-scientific position.

            Regarding the Safire project, it does not surprise me that you’d choose a third party source to form your opinion of it without going to the source, it’s the same thing you do with standard cosmology it seems, let them form your opinion of what’s real and what’s not real, what to believe or not believe. DOE, which the Safire scientists utilized, is the very highest order of scientific investigation humanly possible. And their experiments are totally replicatable by any organization wanting to bother to try, which is really the only way anyone can scientifically and legitimately dismiss their findings, regardless of what the esteemed bastion of truth rationalwiki contends. And THAT’S how science actually works, through replicatable scientific experimentation. So why don’t try going to the source and getting your facts straight.

  4. Ummmm…. These are tiny black holes. Sagittarius a* at the center of the Milky Way galaxy exceeds 4 million solar masses, so 66 solar masses is nothing.

  5. Black Holes Matter

  6. Agreed, these scientists don’t know anything. All the answers are in Steven’s mom’s basement but he’s the only one who knows. Hail Steven thank you for clearing it all up.

  7. Seriously, if there are no black holes, what do you call them? The phenomenon exists, we can see…do you just prefer a different name or are you just a disbeliever in science…which by the way explaines everything that exists..including you! Please explain you theory. We must consider it..that’s how science plays!

    • See my post above to Torbjörn Larsson in response to his typical dismissiveness, but I prefer APPLIED science, not this THEORETICAL nonsense.

      • Torbjörn Larsson | September 8, 2020 at 8:42 am | Reply

        And visitors on science sites prefer all science and not pseudoscience of yours, see my responses.

        Besides, the observation ny gravitational waves and on black hole merger systems is twice over applied general relativity.

  8. The Mature Sciene Man | September 7, 2020 at 6:21 am | Reply

    Its kinda sad that people can’t get a life so they bully science the only logic humans have….lol

  9. Torbjörn Larsson | September 7, 2020 at 9:01 am | Reply

    The merger radiated away 8 solar masses, which is 2-4 times more than typical earlier mergers, so it is no wonder that they saw twice as far. Even if it was a low frequency chirp with 10-20 Hz main frequency, it seems the upgraded Advanced LIGO could observe that low.

    The event had an expected rate of ~ 0.1 Gpc^-3 yr^-1, so the 100 Gpc^3 volume would see these about every month – we will soon get good statistics on what seems to be happening in the center of galaxies.

  10. How is Stephen bullying Science? Granted, he isn’t productively challenging the theory of black holes, but Science would just be another religion if we just accepted what any given scientist claimed to have proven, or in this case, merely observed. If Stephen isn’t bullying Science. He’s helping to keep it on its toes. Actually, that’s the thing that separates Science from religion. It’s capable of being debunked without losing its truth. Keep it up, Stephen. You’re moving Science forward by challenging the “facts.”

    • Torbjörn Larsson | September 8, 2020 at 8:49 am | Reply

      Sure, but per reviewed published science has already run the gauntlet of professional criticism and it shows plenty of results (say the internet [ARPA] and the web [CERN] we post on]. So that is not an argument for not abstaining from trolling, there isn’t any acceptance of superstition that we need action against.

      On the contrary, we can see how people here have used his bullying as basis for *peddling* superstition.

      Productively challenging the science would be to do science that either support or reject the discussed one. Or if not your science area, reading the paper and discuss it contents – we may find something (unlikely that it is) the many involved expert scientists didn’t.

      • Torbjörn Larsson | September 8, 2020 at 8:51 am | Reply

        “but per reviewed published science has already run the gauntlet” – but peer reviewed published science already ran the gauntlet.

  11. So much for Steven and The Universe.

  12. Dark Matter Matters

  13. Thaumaturge 91 | September 8, 2020 at 2:20 am | Reply

    OK, let’s get this shit straight; black holes were created by SatAn & they are officially known as satanic orafaces. This is pure unadulterated verifiable scientific secret info that I am revealing here for the first time ever, so keep your lips sealed so Baphomet doesn’t hear about it.

  14. When AA was at the University he asked for two holes one small for a small cat and one big for a big cat.
    The maintenance guy asked ” could we have one bit one for a small one and for a big one!”

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