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New Mystery Merger Detected by LIGO-Virgo

Image Credit: LIGO/Caltech/MIT/R. Hurt (IPAC)

In August of 2019, the LIGO-Virgo gravitational-wave network witnessed the merger of a black hole with 23 times the mass of our sun and a mystery object 2.6 times the mass of the sun. Scientists do not know if the mystery object was a neutron star or black hole, but either way it set a record as being either the heaviest known neutron star or the lightest known black hole.

There was strong CIERA involvement in this work. The paper was led by Director Vicky Kalogera. Also on the paper team was Marie Curie Postdoctoral Fellow Mario Spera, who led the discussion of the astrophysical implications. Graduate student Michael Zevin helped put together a first draft. Graduate student Chase Kimball calculated the merger rates (one of the most important pieces of information for interpreting the results); he is now the go-to person in the LIGO-Virgo Collaboration for these calculations, having led the work for multiple papers. Board of Visitors Research Assistant Professor Christopher Berry served as the lead of the Editorial Board for this paper.

Congratulations, everyone!

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Media Mentions of Northwestern/CIERA