How To Capture Black Holes

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Black holes are awesome – but how about black holes being captured by the screaming vortex of a quasar, where they merge and grow like some monstrous version of a solar system. This insane hypothesis is getting closer to reality, according to the papers in today’s space time journal club.

Hosted by Matt O’Dowd
Written by Matt O’Dowd
Graphics by Leonardo Scholzer & Adriano Leal
Directed by: Andrew Kornhaber
Executive Producers: Eric Brown & Andrew Kornhaber

End Credits Music by J.R.S. Schattenberg:

Thanks to LIGO we’ve now seen black hole mergers, but there was some striking surprises. For one thing, many of the merging black holes were too massive to have been formed by the collapse of stellar cores. That is if our understanding of stellar evolution is half as good as we think it is. This led astrophysicists to think about new ways to produce black hole mergers. Here’s the most awesome possibility: what if black hole mergers actually occur in orbit around supermassive black holes, embedded deep in the whirlpools of searing gas that surround some of these monsters? Today on Space Time Journal Club we’ll be looking at a pair of 2019 papers that talk about this possibility. We have Yang et al., which predicts the properties of black holes that merge this way, and McKernan et al. which proposes a way for us to actually test this hypothesis.

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