Scientists searching for gravitational waves have confirmed yet another detection from their fruitful observing run earlier this year. Dubbed GW170608, the latest discovery was produced by the merger of two relatively light black holes, 7 and 12 times the mass of the sun, at a distance of about a billion light-years from Earth. The merger left behind a final black hole 18 times the mass of the sun, meaning that energy equivalent to about 1 solar mass was emitted as gravitational waves during the collision.
GW170608 is the lightest black hole binary that LIGO and Virgo have observed – and so is one of the first cases where black holes detected through gravitational waves have masses similar to black holes detected indirectly via electromagnetic radiation, such as X-rays.
Prof Matthew Bailes delivers a history of gravitational waves in virtual and augmented reality to a packed theatre at Swinburne University of Technology. We were delighted to have Prof Brian Schmidt as our MC, and a personal message from Prof Barry Barish to launch our Centre of Excellence for Gravitational Wave Discovery (OzGrav).