There Is a ‘Budget’ for How Many Black Holes Can Exist in Our Universe According to New Research from Vanderbilt University Astrophysicist
A newly released study led by a Vanderbilt University astrophysicist has established a potential universal "budget" for how many binary black holes can exist in the universe, according to a report from Phys.Org.
"Researchers up until now have theorized the formation and existence for pairs of black holes in the universe, but the origins of their predecessors, stars, still remains a mystery," explained Karan Jani, a Vanderbilt astrophysicist and the study's lead author speaking in an official statement from Vanderbilt University.
What scientists did was study merging binary black holes, the retraced each individual black hole's life-cycle backward through its formation from a star, comparing that to the predicted number of how many stars there are in the universe and the number of those stars that are likely to black holes.
"With this study, we did a forensic study of colliding black holes using the astrophysical observations that are currently available. In the process, we developed a fundamental constraint, or budget, which tells us about the fraction of stars since the beginning of the universe that are destined to collide as black holes."
Astrophysicists then compared these estimates against Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) data measuring gravitational waves.
"From the current observations, we find that 14 percent of all the massive stars in the universe are destined to collide as black holes. That's remarkable efficiency on nature's part," Jani pointed out. "These added constraints in our framework should help researchers trace the histories of black holes, answering old questions and undoubtedly opening up more exotic scenarios."
Gravitational waves are invisible "'ripples' in space-time." Only the strongest and most catastrophic events in space can cause gravitational waves to happen – things like a neutron star collision or a black hole merger.