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When Black Holes Collide

samzenpus posted more than 8 years ago | from the double-event-horizon dept.

127

EricTheGreen writes "CNN.com reports on a pair of black holes in a mating dance that can only end badly for both of them. Fortunately they've still got several million years for the emotional rush to wear off and realize what a terrible mistake they're both making..."

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127 comments

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And new rings around uranus! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15085077)

First Post bitches!

Why? (1, Funny)

JordanL (886154) | more than 8 years ago | (#15085083)

Why did this remind me of that Family Guy episode?

"President Douchebag: I just got a call from my challenger.
Crowd: Boooo!
President Douchebag: Now now, Mr. Daterape ran a fine campaign."

Re:Why? (2, Insightful)

mnemonic_ (164550) | more than 8 years ago | (#15085652)

Probably because you don't know how to punctuate quotations properly.

yup... (2, Funny)

3.14159265 (644043) | more than 8 years ago | (#15085086)

gravity sucks...

Oh boy (1, Funny)

Klowner (145731) | more than 8 years ago | (#15085105)

First blue rings around uranus, now we've got black holes colliding.. This place is really getting to disgusting for me.

Re:Oh boy (2, Informative)

cnflctd (69843) | more than 8 years ago | (#15085821)

Only if you speak both Russian and English. When a Russian says "YourAnus", he won't get the joke. Black hole on the other hand is russian slang for, well, your anus.

Re:Oh boy (1)

fbjon (692006) | more than 8 years ago | (#15086150)

I propose a name change to be rid of these ridiculous jokes: Urectum, and Brown Holes.

Re:Oh boy (2, Interesting)

chrismcdirty (677039) | more than 8 years ago | (#15086591)

I propose we call them star holes, since they're in space and they suck up stars, among other things.

Re:Oh boy (1)

butterwise (862336) | more than 8 years ago | (#15087467)

By that logic they should be called "stars-and-other-things holes." Brilliant!

Re:Oh boy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15086145)

Were you aware that Uranus is a large blue gas giant which is flattened at the poles and surrounded by a cloud of methane?

Re:Oh boy (1)

shotfeel (235240) | more than 8 years ago | (#15087405)

Unfortunately, after reading your comment I read this page [thes.co.uk] .

Where I learned that blue rings were associated with small moons. And "The outer ring of Saturn is blue and has Enceladus right smack at its brightest spot, and Uranus is strikingly similar, with its blue ring right on top of Mab's orbit,".

LISA (2, Informative)

alta (1263) | more than 8 years ago | (#15085139)

Neat, a new telescope thing called LISA will be able to detect the merger. If they can keep the power on for a few million years.

Re:LISA (2, Informative)

davidoff404 (764733) | more than 8 years ago | (#15085245)

It *may* be able to detect it if LISA ever gets funding to go into production. LISA will never see the light of day if LIGO [caltech.edu] doesn't see evidence of gravitational waves when it starts full science runs this year.

Re:LISA (1)

Stormwatch (703920) | more than 8 years ago | (#15085642)

The LISA telescope won't last that much: it'll soon be replaced by the MACINTOSH telescope.

Re:LISA (1)

Gattman01 (957859) | more than 8 years ago | (#15086268)

Yeah, but then someone will take the MACINTOSH telescope, clone its lens, and release the clones with added security holes.

Re:LISA (1)

mgabrys_sf (951552) | more than 8 years ago | (#15088076)

At the same time the origonal team leader of the LISA telescope will be snubbed and storm off to create an overdesigned and exensive telescope called NEXT - which will be coveted by high-end astronomers, but will be panned by everyone else until it's core tech is purchased by members of the MACINTOSH telescope in which case it will usher in the 10th iteration of tech design.

There! Try to keep this lame thread going NOW.

Re:LISA (1)

Gattman01 (957859) | more than 8 years ago | (#15088643)

Eventually an astronomy student will create his own lens after being told he can not modify a telescope built by someone else. Then other astronomers will add more parts to this lens, and the LINUX telescope will be completed. These enthusiasts will then proclaim their telescope the best every created, and some will claim that is impervious to space dust that plagues the popular telescopes. This telescope will battle other popular telescopes with its main claim that it makes astronomy cheaper to do.


There! Try to keep this lame thread going NOW.


How is that?

Oh noes! (-1, Troll)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 8 years ago | (#15085142)

Teh galaxies are dividing by zero!!!!oneone

ATTENTION /. MODS: DO NOT MOD THIS COMMENT DOWN!!! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15085150)

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Duis sodales dolor. Cras ornare tempus risus. Sed lobortis. Etiam ut augue. Aliquam iaculis pede sed metus. In hac habitasse platea dictumst. Vestibulum auctor dignissim diam. Duis sed lectus. Fusce tortor. Nulla facilisi. Suspendisse potenti. Sed mattis semper ipsum. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Ut pede odio, elementum at, sodales ut, commodo quis, diam. Aliquam posuere dolor ut pede. Vivamus elementum aliquet erat. Fusce vehicula. Integer rhoncus vestibulum dolor.

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Sed suscipit enim eu elit. Nunc lacus. Maecenas justo odio, vulputate vel, pellentesque ac, mattis in, enim. Nulla laoreet quam nec sem. Mauris et odio eget elit tristique mattis. Nullam tempus ante a ante. In id quam eget velit mollis tristique. Nulla nec tortor. Maecenas interdum mauris sit amet magna. Sed magna nisl, ornare ut, facilisis ac, feugiat sit amet, lacus. Phasellus mattis lorem consequat felis. Ut dapibus. Donec sit amet tortor. Aliquam erat volutpat. Morbi sed turpis at nibh mollis pretium. Quisque suscipit, libero eu consequat accumsan, orci orci scelerisque eros, in egestas velit turpis non dolor. Donec sem nibh, sagittis hendrerit, vestibulum vel, ornare et, metus.

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Re:ATTENTION /. MODS: DO NOT MOD THIS COMMENT DOWN (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15085291)

WTF does that say in english?

Re:ATTENTION /. MODS: DO NOT MOD THIS COMMENT DOWN (1)

Hoho19 (529839) | more than 8 years ago | (#15085428)

I recognize it from Apple's iWeb tempates...but beyond that you got me...

lorem ipsum (1)

mnemonic_ (164550) | more than 8 years ago | (#15085706)

It's the standard filler text for page layout, see lipsum.com [lipsum.com] . It's a garbled version of a latin speech by Cicero.

Re:ATTENTION /. MODS: DO NOT MOD THIS COMMENT DOWN (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15085747)

It's just nonsense. Yes, it looks like Latin. It's supposed to. Apparently someone back in the day created this bunch of text as a useful "placeholder" for real text in the printing business, since it has similar distributions and letter frequency of (and looks like) an average block of text. That's why you'll find it in Apple's iLife templates for text blocks. And why the troll could be successful in getting modded back up, simply because some people get mod points and then proceed to listen to the subject line...

Re:ATTENTION /. MODS: DO NOT MOD THIS COMMENT DOWN (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15085979)

Why do you insist this is trolling? It's just a speech by Cicero that has nothing to do with anything. That's certainly offtopic, but I don't see how it's trolling.

Re:ATTENTION /. MODS: DO NOT MOD THIS COMMENT DOWN (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15088403)

Ipso fatso!!

Sincerely,
Archie Bunker ;)

Re:ATTENTION /. MODS: DO NOT MOD THIS COMMENT DOWN (1)

RandomPrecision (911416) | more than 8 years ago | (#15085732)

Lorem ipsums are Latin filler texts. The origanl Lorem Ipsum was from some famous work, way back in the day.

An excerpt translation from Wikipedia: "H. Rackham's 1914 translation: "Nor again is there anyone who loves or pursues or desires to obtain pain of itself, because it is pain, but because occasionally circumstances occur in which toil and pain can procure him some great pleasure. To take a trivial example, which of us ever undertakes laborious physical exercise, except to obtain some advantage from it? But who has any right to find fault with a man who chooses to enjoy a pleasure that has no annoying consequences, or one who avoids a pain that produces no resultant pleasure?"

The poster probably used a Lorem Ipsum generator like this one [perbang.dk] .

Re:ATTENTION /. MODS: DO NOT MOD THIS COMMENT DOWN (1)

g0bshiTe (596213) | more than 8 years ago | (#15087732)

jello

Sooner than you think (4, Interesting)

Skevin (16048) | more than 8 years ago | (#15085184)

> Fortunately they've still got several million years

Umm, how many light years away is this? Sure, it might take million years for the *light* from the spectacle of them merging to reach us, but if they're millions of light years away (center of the galaxy?), they may have already merged.

I've always speculated as whether gravity travels like light. Would "gravity waves" from the merge be felt here on earth the instant it happened, or would it take the same amount of time as light/electromagnetic radiation to reach us?

Re:Sooner than you think (0)

osgeek (239988) | more than 8 years ago | (#15085226)

The effects of gravity don't travel any faster than light can.

Re:Sooner than you think (1)

penguin-collective (932038) | more than 8 years ago | (#15085940)

That is plausible, but there is at best one experiment that purports to show that (and even that one is in dispute).

Re:Sooner than you think (1)

thePig (964303) | more than 8 years ago | (#15085239)

No Information can travel at the speed more than that of light.
Even if (just a hypothesis) gravity waves reaches here at the instant it happened, it means that it is not detectable, since if we can detect it, it means information travelled at more than the speed of light.

Anyways, einstein proved that the concept of 'same instant (instantaneous)' is not there anymore.
So that q itslef is not valid.

Re:Sooner than you think (2, Interesting)

ComaVN (325750) | more than 8 years ago | (#15087514)

Even if (just a hypothesis) gravity waves reaches here at the instant it happened, it means that it is not detectable, since if we can detect it, it means information travelled at more than the speed of light.

Alternatively, it could mean that no information can travel at more than the speed of light, except in the form of gravity waves.

I mean, shouldn't "No Information can travel at the speed more than that of light" really be "There's no known mechanism by which information can travel at a speed more than that of light"?

Re:Sooner than you think (3, Insightful)

BlewScreen (159261) | more than 8 years ago | (#15085316)

I've always speculated as whether gravity travels like light. Would "gravity waves" from the merge be felt here on earth the instant it happened, or would it take the same amount of time as light/electromagnetic radiation to reach us?

If you take a look at this book [amazon.com] , you'll find that there is a way to measure the "speed of gravity" (according to the author) and that it is indeed faster than the (current) speed of light.

I'm not going to agree or disagree with what he puts forth, but if you're interested in questions such as the one you propose above, you'll probably find the book interesting. The supposition is that the speed of light and the speed of gravity were, at the time of the big bang, equal, and that the speed of light has gradually slowed over time.

I think the answer the author would give to your question is that the "gravity waves" you mention would arrive before the light would, but it would not be instant.

-bs

Re:Sooner than you think (1, Informative)

chrisatoremus (956200) | more than 8 years ago | (#15087010)

gravity is a force. it produces acceleration. Using

F=ma,

where the mass of earth is 5.9742 × 10^24 kilograms, in order to get an acceleration of 1 meter per second squared toward these black holes (now this black hole), they would need to exert a gravitational pull of

5.97 x 10^24 meters per second squared, or very roughly 10^24 times earth's gravity.

This rough calculation does not include the (small amount of) friction present in space, or opposite gravitational pulls from other objects. Plus, when referring to a wave of gravity, the article would be referring to a temporary gravitational pull resulting from this merger, so chances are the force wouldn't ever get the Earth to move at all. If it did, we'd probably never notice it.

Re:Sooner than you think (2, Informative)

davidoff404 (764733) | more than 8 years ago | (#15087202)

gravity is a force. it produces acceleration.

Gravity is not a force. Matter produces spacetime curvature, which in turn tells matter how to move, to paraphrase MTW. The analogy between gravity and forces isn't rigorous and one eventually runs into difficulties with it.

I can't make much sense of the rest of your post, particularly the "friction present in space" or the bit about "opposite gravitational pulls from other objects." If the universe is homogeneous or sufficiently close to homogeneous on an astrophysical scale, neither effect you mention matters.

Re:Sooner than you think (2, Informative)

Chowderbags (847952) | more than 8 years ago | (#15088652)

Wha? The word "gravity" by itself isn't a force. It's a concept. The "force of gravity" is the force felt by two objects pulling on eachother, which you could calculate using (G(m1)(m2))/(r^2). Since we can calculate the mass of the black holes based on the speed of the dust orbiting a particular distance from the center, we could find the real force that the black holes exert on the earth (which, yes, would be small, since the objects are so far away). The problem, though, is that since the black holes are merging, it's going into crazy Einsteinian physics. Two rips in spacetime are coming together, with unknown consequences, one of which could be noticible (to instruments, probably not to the man on the street) gravitational effects which could show the true nature of gravity.

Re:Sooner than you think (1)

kestasjk (933987) | more than 8 years ago | (#15088502)

It's worth bearing in mind that the varying speed of light (VSL as the author puts it) is still considered a crackpot theory, and the book is written by the same person who put it forth. I'm not saying it wasn't an interesting read though.

Re:Sooner than you think (2, Funny)

Feanturi (99866) | more than 8 years ago | (#15088904)

Gravity used to go the same speed as light, but then it pissed off Chuck Norris and has to go faster now to get away.

Re:Sooner than you think (1)

HolyCrapSCOsux (700114) | more than 8 years ago | (#15085518)

Will it really matter? Their respective gravity wells are already in (relative) proximity. when they converge There shouldnt be a huge gravity spike or anything should there?

Re:Sooner than you think (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 8 years ago | (#15087843)

If you consider that the Earth/Moon gravitational playground affects the very earth we stand on.
It is strong enough to move the oceans, and thats just a tiny moon around a tiny star at the outer edge of a smallish galaxy.
Imagine how the tidal forces of these two monsters would be playing and distorting and twisting their surroundings.
Hurling entire star systems great distances at a time, suddenly one system comes out from behind the shadow of another system and is thrown into the path of an oncoming blackhole.

I would imagine it would be immense super traumatic twister and if that doesn't cause gravitational waves, then I don't know what will.

Re:Sooner than you think (1)

HolyCrapSCOsux (700114) | more than 8 years ago | (#15085553)

never mind.. I just RTFA.

Re:Sooner than you think (4, Informative)

Luyseyal (3154) | more than 8 years ago | (#15085898)

Scientists measured the speed of gravity [newscientist.com] a few years ago... short answer: it travels at the speed of light as predicted by Einstein's equations.

Cheers,
-l

Re:Sooner than you think (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15087403)

As long as you ignore that the equations used in the calculations already included, as an assumption, that the speed of gravity is the same as the speed of light.

Nice try, though.

Re:Sooner than you think (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15087664)

yeah right. .95c with error margin of .25c. that creates a range of .7-1.2c. all i would say is good innovative way to measure something but need more accuracy. a LOT more in this case.

Re:Sooner than you think (1, Informative)

xtieburn (906792) | more than 8 years ago | (#15086057)

According to this http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/gravity_spee d_030107.html [space.com] Gravity travels at light speed.

However, it was immediately attacked http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/gravity_spee d_030116.html [space.com]

Contrary to some of the other posts there is no current reason to exclude the idea that gravity is faster than the speed of light. Some experiments have shown that it is possible. ( http://physics.about.com/cs/gravity/a/speedofgravi ty_2.htm [about.com] ) We do not know what gravity is, exactly, so its impossible to simple compare it to your average particle physics and the like.

As I said there is equal amounts of arguments against these experiments and there conclusions so we simply dont know for sure. It is very likely that it does travel at exactly the same speed as light (Just as Einstein predicted) but you should never rule out other possibilities until you are sure.

Re:Sooner than you think (4, Informative)

davidoff404 (764733) | more than 8 years ago | (#15087290)

Mod parent down: -1 nonsense.

Contrary to some of the other posts there is no current reason to exclude the idea that gravity is faster than the speed of light. Some experiments have shown that it is possible. ( http://physics.about.com/cs/gravity/a/speedofgravi [about.com] ty_2.htm ) We do not know what gravity is, exactly, so its impossible to simple compare it to your average particle physics and the like.

The article to which you link mentions a paper by Kopeiken that has been discredited. Measurements of binary pulsars, the canonical example of which is PSR B1534+12, have demonstrated that the speed of gravity is equivalent to the speed of light to within +/-1.5%. Quite apart from these results, gravity most certainly does not (as some here have suggested) propagate at infinite speed. The fact that we observe gravitational damping of binary pulsar systems such as PSR 1913+16 conclusively demonstrates that gravity has a finite propagation speed.

Re:Sooner than you think (1)

xtieburn (906792) | more than 8 years ago | (#15088178)

'Mod parent down: -1 nonsense.'

Err thanks.

'The article to which you link mentions a paper by Kopeiken that has been discredited.'

Really? How'd you work that out? Was it from the second link I posted discrediting him perhaps...

'Measurements of binary pulsars, the canonical example of which is PSR B1534+12, have demonstrated that the speed of gravity is equivalent to the speed of light to within +/-1.5%.'

Yes and the study I posted, while less accurate, said more or less the same thing.

'Quite apart from these results, gravity most certainly does not (as some here have suggested) propagate at infinite speed. The fact that we observe gravitational damping of binary pulsar systems such as PSR 1913+16 conclusively demonstrates that gravity has a finite propagation speed.'

A moot point. I never said gravity works at instantaneous speeds. If others did respond to them with your self superior crap.

As far as I am aware gravitational damping is evidence that gravity moves at a speed around that of light. At no point did I dispute that, in fact, as ive said already the site I posted says more or less the same.

As I also pointed out in my post there are arguments for and against all the tests for gravitational speed they all remain inconclusive and unless you can actually post some evidence, there is no study that proves for certain gravity works at light speed.

Its exceptionally likely that it does, there is torrents of indirect evidence and theory backing that fact up. Something I also said in my apparently nonsensical post...

Re:Sooner than you think (1)

davidoff404 (764733) | more than 8 years ago | (#15088293)

Your central, and only, claim was that there is no current reason to exclude the idea that gravity is faster than the speed of light. The point is that there are plenty of reasons to exclude that idea, foremost among them being experimental evidence which strongly suggests gravity and light travel at the same speed, never mind the fact that general relativity and, by extension, all of our attempts at analyzing the graviational constraint equations are based on spacetime having an essentially unique lightcone structure. Self-important? No.

Re:Sooner than you think (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15089171)

"Mod parent down: -1 nonsense. "

That's part of what the overrated mod is used for. When they're not flaming or trolling or being offtopic but happen to be wrong.

Re:Sooner than you think (1)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 8 years ago | (#15086515)

Consider that the speed of light really is just the maximum speed at which causality can propogate and you'll understand why gravitational effects cannot propogate faster.

Now whether gravity can propogate slower than light would be an interesting question.

Speed of gravity (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15086738)

Replying in one place regarding several responses.

First, the speed of gravity was measured decades ago, inferred by the rate at which the orbits of two neutron stars in a binary pair decayed. The rate of decay agreed exactly with what general relativity predicts due to energy loss via gravitational radiation traveling at the speed of light. The 1993 Nobel Prize was awarded for this work. See this FAQ [ucr.edu] .

Some poster mentioned Magueijo's work; it is, to put it politely, not well accepted. In point of fact, there is little evidence that the speed of light has changed (although there are some controversial studies), and very little evidence that the speed of light differs from the speed of gravity.

Someone else noted Kopeikin's Jupiter paper, but noted that it was immediately attacked. Well, that's true, and if you read the followup papers, you will see that it is now agreed by pretty much everbody but Kopeikin and co. that what they actually measured was the speed of light. And one of the linked articles noted that while this measurement found 1.06c for the speed of gravity, the error bars were +/- 0.2c, so it means nothing; no measurement of the speed of gravity (or light, or anything else) will give exactly c, what matters is whether the error bars exclude c. Anyway, the "measurement" of the speed of gravity discussed by New Scientist really wasn't a measurement of the speed of gravity.

There has as yet been no direct measurement of the speed of light (although the binary star experiment is regarded as a conclusive indirect experiment); that will have to wait until gravitational waves are detected directly by LIGO or a similar experiment.

It is also worth noting that quantum field theory predicts that gravity and light have to travel at the same speed since they're both mediated by massless particles (photons and gravitons); the same goes for extensions beyond QFT such as string theory. Actually, it's true even classically in any field theory compatible with special relativity.

P.S. In case anyone wants to bring up Tom van Flandern and metaresearch.com, he's a famous Usenet crank; see the above FAQ as well as Steve Carlip's paper on the gr-qc arXiv.org for an explanation.

Re:Sooner than you think (1)

pclminion (145572) | more than 8 years ago | (#15087741)

Umm, how many light years away is this? Sure, it might take million years for the *light* from the spectacle of them merging to reach us, but if they're millions of light years away (center of the galaxy?), they may have already merged.

Time is all relative. The idea of "simultaneity" gets more and more ambiguous as distances increase. Does the fact that something is happening "now" even matter, if the effects of that occurrence can't reach us in less than millions of years? The entire concept of "now" loses its power.

Basically, you can't really talk about what is happening "now" at some location that is millions or billions of light years away.

What...Goatse Guy met Tubgirl? (5, Funny)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 8 years ago | (#15085193)

Come on - tell me no one else thought of that?

Re:What...Goatse Guy met Tubgirl? (4, Funny)

Cheapy (809643) | more than 8 years ago | (#15085262)

No one thought of that.

Re:What...Goatse Guy met Tubgirl? (1)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 8 years ago | (#15086174)

Damn you.. Damn you to all enternity. I had never heard nor seen tubgirl until just now. Damn you all.

Re:What...Goatse Guy met Tubgirl? (1)

Zoolander (590897) | more than 8 years ago | (#15086716)

Welcome... to the real world.

Re:What...Goatse Guy met Tubgirl? (1)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 8 years ago | (#15087038)

Trust me I got enough of the real world seeing goatse guy years ago. I wanted nothing more to do with this "real world" after that point in time.

Re:What...Goatse Guy met Tubgirl? (1)

lbmouse (473316) | more than 8 years ago | (#15086728)

"Come on - tell me no one else thought of that?"

No, I was thinking new show on Fox.

I really wish you hadn't thought of that. (1)

dpbsmith (263124) | more than 8 years ago | (#15087041)

(Enough said)

"When Black Holes Collide..." (0, Troll)

PenguinBoyDave (806137) | more than 8 years ago | (#15085202)

That could also be a good title for a porn flick!

Hope they signed a prenup... (1)

YU Nicks NE Way (129084) | more than 8 years ago | (#15085238)

How else are they going to figure out what to do with the stuff which is left over after their pairing collapses?

Stop! (4, Funny)

Hikaru79 (832891) | more than 8 years ago | (#15085280)

Fortunately they've still got several million years for the emotional rush to wear off and realize what a terrible mistake they're both making...

Black holes hate it when you anthropomorphise them!

Re:Stop! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15085776)

No no. The better phrasing it, "Black holes hate being anthropomorphised!" It's more effective. "it when you" and ending with "them" makes it weaker.

Re:Stop! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15086184)

Why is that? Does it make it weaker to everyone, or just the common denominator? Does it make it harder to understand to you or someone else? I'm not saying you're wrong, I just want to understand your reasoning for saying that.

Re:Stop! (1)

normal_guy (676813) | more than 8 years ago | (#15087206)

It's a grammatical turn of phrase. Here are some examples and exercises [washington.edu] . I'm not the parent poster, just an interested party.

Re:Stop! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15087721)

No, it doesn't make it harder to understand. It was a purely stylistic objection, related to the active/passive issue that normalguy raised. So, yes, it's subjective, but I do think the vast majority of people would say that my version has more punch. (Well, it's not my version--I read it that was in someone's sig here on slashdot a few months ago. I assume the grandparent did too, and remembered it wrong.) The grandparent's version is diluted unnecessary filler words, and it even ends on one of them.

Re:Stop! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15087815)

Crap. I mean to say, "The grandparent's version is diluted by unnecessary filler words, and it even ends on one of them."

something I always wondered (3, Interesting)

Fanro (130986) | more than 8 years ago | (#15085450)

Something I always wondered:
When two black holes are close together, then something that has exactly the same distance to each of them should not fall into either one.

What happens when they are so close that their event horizons overlap?

Shouldn't there always be some flat zone between them that is not part of either event horizon?

So how can they merge?

Re:something I always wondered (2, Informative)

Scott Lockwood (218839) | more than 8 years ago | (#15085594)

I'm just speculating here, but I'm betting you have a RAZOR thin 'line' between the two. You're still squished into spaghetti at that line, and once they 'touch' event horizons, it's only a (short?) matter of time before their center's merge and form one, larger black hole, whith one, larger event horizon. It's not like there is any force that will cause them to repell one another, so they likely arc together in an ever tightening vortex until they merge. The closer they get, the faster they go, as well.

Re:something I always wondered (1)

Fanro (130986) | more than 8 years ago | (#15085698)

Well, at the "line", they would cancel each other out exactly, but close to the line they would still almost cancel each other out, so a small object might be able to hold together there. It would be an instable position, but a small spaceship might be able to maintain that position?

What if they don't collide exactly head-on, but just circle each other? They would circle closer and closer, whithout ever actually coliding, so would this "line" stay?

Re:something I always wondered (1)

cnflctd (69843) | more than 8 years ago | (#15085899)

See wikipedia on black holes. Any spinning black hole has a ring-shaped singularity. Anything that sits on the line thru the center will never hit the singularity, but everything else will. *cue twilight zone theme*

Re:something I always wondered (2, Informative)

vertinox (846076) | more than 8 years ago | (#15085921)

It would be an instable position, but a small spaceship might be able to maintain that position?

I'd have to give a big resounding no. IANAAP (I Am Not An Astrophysist), but it would be generally assumed that since we are 3 dimensional, some of our atoms would fall on one black hole's event horizon and then some on the other resulting in the space craft and those inside of it to be ripped into two bits sans the atoms that fall along the razor edge.

However, if you were a 2d entity, you might be able to pull this off... But I'm not sure how a 2d entity can survive in a 3d world much less transport itself between two black holes.

Lastly it could be possible that the two black holes could be uneven in strength so that the even horizon is contantly shifting towards the lesser gravity as the larger consumes it so that the razors edge on the EH would be constantly being dragged towards the black hole.

I could be wrong about this though...

Re:something I always wondered (1)

shotfeel (235240) | more than 8 years ago | (#15087063)

However, if you were a 2d entity, you might be able to pull this off... But I'm not sure how a 2d entity can survive in a 3d world much less transport itself between two black holes.

Wasn't that covered in a ST:TNG episode?

Re:something I always wondered (1)

drsquare (530038) | more than 8 years ago | (#15086135)

Well, at the "line", they would cancel each other out exactly, but close to the line they would still almost cancel each other out, so a small object might be able to hold together there. It would be an instable position, but a small spaceship might be able to maintain that position?

You'd be ripped in half.

Re:something I always wondered (1)

afex2win (941849) | more than 8 years ago | (#15085723)

when two black holes are close to each other they become surrounded by a common horizon and for all practical purposes they look like a distorted black hole

Re:something I always wondered (4, Informative)

Bob3141592 (225638) | more than 8 years ago | (#15085897)

Something I always wondered: When two black holes are close together, then something that has exactly the same distance to each of them should not fall into either one. What happens when they are so close that their event horizons overlap? Shouldn't there always be some flat zone between them that is not part of either event horizon? So how can they merge?

There's a difference between the strength of a gravitational field and a gravitational gradient. It's like at the center of the Earth. The gravitational gradient there (relative to the Earth's field) is zero, but the force of all that overhanging rock is pretty high. You wouldn't float there comfortably with no force acting on you. You'd be squished.

And that's in a conventional, Nwtonian view of gravity, which is where most people are comfortable thinking about these things. In the relativistic world things get a bit more complicated. The gravitational field itself has energy, and energy at sufficiently high densities has an appreciable mass equivalence and so itself gravitates. At high enough values, like at the event horizon of a black hole, this kind of positive resonance causes the equations describing the system to diverge and the solutions go to infinity, and this divergence is called a singularity.

The event horizon isn't a physical thing, it's the point where the divergence is assured. You can't really think of a black hole as a single hard little ball agt the center of a black hole surrounded by black empty space up to the event horizon, though I believe that's now most people think of it. All spatial and temporal points within the event horizon are indistinguishable - but it's be somewhat misleading to say that they're all the same point either, because the equations that describe those points can't be solved rationally since they contain infinities and it's like asking how infinity +1 is different from infinity + 2.

If you were able to maneuver in space such that you were always equidistant from two black holes of identical mass, you would float around comfortably as long as the bh's were sufficiently far from you. As they approached, you'd feel significant tidal stretching. As the bh's got closer, you would be stretched further, and smaller regions even closer to that exact midpoint would feel increased stretching. At the point where they merged, even the infinitestimal point at the exact center would be stretched to infinity (that one zero volume point could not resist the force that was stretching it out to fill the volume of the whole universe). Of course, this is a somewhat poetic way to describe events that cannot really be described because the physical equations contain infinities and have no meaningful interpretations.

At times like that, poetry is all you can do. It's hard to resist making analogies with this scenario and the creation of the universe, but such analogies, like any other analogy what talk about on or inside the event horizon of a black hole, are meaningless here. But it's still fun.

Re:something I always wondered (1)

rabel (531545) | more than 8 years ago | (#15087118)

Wow. After that explanation I think I need a cigarette.

Re:something I always wondered (4, Insightful)

davidoff404 (764733) | more than 8 years ago | (#15087395)

In the relativistic world things get a bit more complicated. The gravitational field itself has energy, and energy at sufficiently high densities has an appreciable mass equivalence and so itself gravitates. At high enough values, like at the event horizon of a black hole, this kind of positive resonance causes the equations describing the system to diverge and the solutions go to infinity, and this divergence is called a singularity.

Quite apart from the plausible sounding explanation, you really haven't grasped the concept. There is *nothing* singular about a black hole horizon. The horizon acts as a one-way membrane beyond which the true singularity lies in all future-directed paths. To convince yourself that there's nothing singular about the horizon, consider the standard exterior Schwarzschild metric:

ds^2 = -(1-2*M/r)dt^2 + dr^2/(1-2*M/r) + r^2 dQ^2,

where M is the black hole mass (as measured at infinity) and dQ^2 is the metric on the unit two-sphere. If you calculate the square of the curvature tensor for this spacetime you find that it's proportional to M^2/r^6. There is no singularity as the event horizon (r=2M) and, if the black hole is massive enough, you won't even notice that you've passed the event horizon.

The event horizon isn't a physical thing, it's the point where the divergence is assured. You can't really think of a black hole as a single hard little ball agt the center of a black hole surrounded by black empty space up to the event horizon, though I believe that's now most people think of it. All spatial and temporal points within the event horizon are indistinguishable - but it's be somewhat misleading to say that they're all the same point either, because the equations that describe those points can't be solved rationally since they contain infinities and it's like asking how infinity +1 is different from infinity + 2.

You're completely misrepresenting what actually happens within the event horizon. If you were able to maneuver in space such that you were always equidistant from two black holes of identical mass, you would float around comfortably as long as the bh's were sufficiently far from you. As they approached, you'd feel significant tidal stretching. As the bh's got closer, you would be stretched further, and smaller regions even closer to that exact midpoint would feel increased stretching. At the point where they merged, even the infinitestimal point at the exact center would be stretched to infinity (that one zero volume point could not resist the force that was stretching it out to fill the volume of the whole universe). Of course, this is a somewhat poetic way to describe events that cannot really be described because the physical equations contain infinities and have no meaningful interpretations.

Again, you're misrepresenting what happens and you're not actually answering the OP's question. What really happens is that the particle falls into the centre of *both* black holes. This isn't as confusing as it sounds. If we ignore tidal effects while the black holes are distinct, the particle will fall into the centre of both of them because the black holes merge once they become sufficiently close.

Re:something I always wondered (2, Insightful)

BinaryOpty (736955) | more than 8 years ago | (#15087445)

There's a difference between the strength of a gravitational field and a gravitational gradient. It's like at the center of the Earth. The gravitational gradient there (relative to the Earth's field) is zero, but the force of all that overhanging rock is pretty high. You wouldn't float there comfortably with no force acting on you. You'd be squished.
Doesn't Newton's shell theory state that when within a large spherical body of mass you can treat the mass as a shell of radius to where you are within it because the mass that's further out than you ends up cancelling out? As such, if the center of the earth was somehow hollow and you somehow got transported there or something, then you would float because by the shell theory all of the mass above you is cancelling out all the mass below you and thus you have a net gravitational force of 0 pulling on you. The "overhanging" rock wouldn't squish you because you'd have "underhanging" rock to counteract its pull (even though those terms mean nothing if you're at the center of the planet where essentially every direction is up).

Re:something I always wondered (3, Informative)

ScriptedReplay (908196) | more than 8 years ago | (#15087802)

There's a difference between the strength of a gravitational field and a gravitational gradient. It's like at the center of the Earth. The gravitational gradient there (relative to the Earth's field) is zero, but the force of all that overhanging rock is pretty high. You wouldn't float there comfortably with no force acting on you. You'd be squished.

ouch! no. At least, not if you assume spherical symmetry. Baby analytical mech. example: the uniform sphere. Gravitational force is linear inside, going to zero.

You'd be squashed, alright, but not by gravity. It's the pressure in all that rock around you that you have to watch for. But if you manage to stabilize the hole you supposedly dug in the center of the Earth against the surrounding pressure, then you'd be floating quite comfortably.

Re:something I always wondered (2, Informative)

PieSquared (867490) | more than 8 years ago | (#15087043)

There is nothing magic about the event horizon of the black hole. When two things pass an equal distance from any two objects that are big enough that they would normaly fall toward one thing or the other, the net force is zero. This is not to say that the force on the object is zero however, and if something passed between two black holes that were close to each other, they would be ripped in half. Due to the massive forces involved, however, people invariably talk of a slice of atoms that are in the exact center that would go to neither one. This only happens because of an incorrect train of thought. Remember that any spaceship or body is made of atoms (as far as *we* know...). Each of these atoms is incredibly small, and only an atom that was exactly in the center where net force was zero would stay put. Also remember that the majority of the mass of an atom is in the nucleus and this only take a tiny fraction of the total volume, making it highly improbable that any given atom through which the line passes isn't closer to one black hole then the other. In the fraction of those atoms in the center plane who ARE exactly blanced, which no longer make up a sheet but instead scattered atoms, that these atoms are moving, some translational movement from when they arived, all rotational or at least electron movement. As such, they will eventually tend one way or another and pass into a black hole.

As for the black holes themselves merging, remember that the event horizon isn't magic. It only means that something, even light, that passes into it won't get out without passing light speed due to the amount of gravity involved. Now recall that this is only true because the NET force is such that a speed faster then light is needed to get out. With two black holes near each other, the net force at any point between them will be less, causing the event horizon to shrink away from the black holes. My only uncertainty comes when the actual masses come close to each other, and then only to wonder what happens to light that passes between them.... can light itself be ripped with 2 black holes a few miles apart?

In anwser, I think the event horizons should shrink as the black holes get to the point where they should touch, doing unplesent things to anything that passes between them, but allowing the black holes to accelerate toward each other in perdictable patterns until they touch and become one larger black hole.

I think that it would be interesting to plot the event horizons of two black holes near each other: if my thinking is correct, there would be a conical section from the point between the holes outward missing from the event horizon: in which light could travel and be observed if said system of black holes passed between a sun and us. (assuming it doesn't somehow get torn apart by the forces involved, and that we have telescopes that can see it with all that plasma and such flying about).

Re:something I always wondered (1)

shotfeel (235240) | more than 8 years ago | (#15087284)

In the fraction of those atoms in the center plane who ARE exactly blanced

Then you hit a problem when the electron moves to a different position, throwing off the balance. Or maybe in this position, the electron gets ripped off in one direction and the nucleus goes another -or part of the nucleus goes one way and part goes the other...

Re:something I always wondered (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15087097)

The event horizon of a black hole can be thought of as the surface from which no information (particles, energy, whatever) can escape. It's the event horizon because it's where observable events (time) ends; you can't see what happens inside a black hole.

Now, merging black holes. If you're in the exact center (or maybe not the very exact center, since black holes drag space-time around them and other funky effects), then maybe you don't get "pulled" into either black hole before the merger. But you still can't escape the combined system, which is the point where the event horizon swallows you up.

To think of it another way, if the system were Newtonian, and consisted of point masses, then you could balance perfectly between the two. But at some point, the field becomes so strong that you can't escape that balance point; if you try to leave, no matter how powerful your engines, both black holes will act to pull you back. (Similar to what happens at the L1 Lagrange point.) At this point, that balance point has been enveloped by the event horizon.

The event horizon is a surface that encloses a volume that simply describes a region of space-time where events (which, as far as we know, are limited by the speed of light) can no longer observed. As such, it's not really a physical boundary, but a mathematical one. An object crossing the event horizon wouldn't notice until it tried to get out. Otherwise, there's nothing special about it.

Of course, this all assumes continuity, and we know the actual universe is quantum, and once you add quantum in, you get funky effects like Hawking radiation. But we haven't solved the quantum gravity problem yet, and Einstein's theory is the best we've got for now.

Re:something I always wondered (1)

Odin_Tiger (585113) | more than 8 years ago | (#15087259)

In a perfect, hypothetical universe of infinite size which contained only those two black holes, and if both were far enough apart that you and your ship could be centered between them without being close enough to either black hole for the gravity to tear you / your ship apart, yes, maybe you could maintain a central position. Given those two, there's the third problem of movement...The two black holes will be in motion, and it while you may be able to calculate where the 'safe spot' will be at a given instant, you probably will not be able to get there, calculate the next safe spot, get there, etc.
Unfortunately, the first 'if' fails immediately. You would not only have to center yourself on the two gravitational pulls from the black holes, but also on the gravitational pull of every other entity in the universe, because they will all tug on you a little bit. The second 'if' is a matter of random chance, but considering the size of the universe, might be considered probable. The third issue, movement, is a certainty, and it's just a question of 'how much?', but any way you look at it, it complicates things far too much.

Betting line (1)

dyslexicbunny (940925) | more than 8 years ago | (#15085540)

Anyone running odds on which one eats the other? Or what happens post eating?

Re:Betting line (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15085738)

you have two event horizon surfaces, then you'll have only one. As far as this side of it is concerned all you have is the surface anyway.

What I'm more interested is whether this will prove to be a detectable source of gravitational waves.

Re:Betting line (1)

nizo (81281) | more than 8 years ago | (#15086463)

I will bet anyone any amount they want as long as I get to hold the money until we discover the outcome in a few million years.

Why am I reminded of the video for... (1)

idontgno (624372) | more than 8 years ago | (#15085542)

that '80s classic, Mondern English's I Melt With You? A pair of dancers whirling together in the darkness...

Meh, I must be getting sentimental in my old age.

Party? (1)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 8 years ago | (#15085687)

CNN.com reports on a pair of black holes in a mating dance

Sounds like there's a party at the Goatse guy. :-S

Conglomeration (2, Funny)

RealGrouchy (943109) | more than 8 years ago | (#15085711)

I dunno, but here on Earth, mergers of Supermassive companies usually end up in additional service charges.

- RG>

If I was sufficiently advanced (3, Funny)

cnflctd (69843) | more than 8 years ago | (#15085745)

Two supermassive black holes are spiraling closer and closer, leading to an inevitable merger.

But is it really inevitable, I ask myself? What would it take to pry them apart? Welcome to einstein's tractor pull!

Imaging the black holes 1 and 2 falling straight towards each other. (Trying to do this with them spinning makes my head hurt). You take a third supermassive BH, call it 3, and give it a large velocity relative to the other two. Send it thru the system at a slight angle.

As it hurtles by the hole 1, it drags it along -- has to come real close, but not too, noam sayin?

As 1 and 3 zip by 2, 1 gets slowed down some, but still has excape velocity from 2. See? No sweat. Now if DARPA will give me a grant, I'd hire a math major to solve orbiting BH case.

Re:If I was sufficiently advanced (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 8 years ago | (#15087446)

But is it really inevitable, I ask myself? What would it take to pry them apart? Welcome to einstein's tractor pull!

Imaging the black holes 1 and 2 falling straight towards each other. (Trying to do this with them spinning makes my head hurt). You take a third supermassive BH, call it 3, and give it a large velocity relative to the other two.

Man, I always hated word problems. So ... which one is leaving Chicago again?

"Can only end badly"? (3, Funny)

ElMiguel (117685) | more than 8 years ago | (#15085849)

They are black holes. How much worse can it get?

Re:"Can only end badly"? (2, Funny)

otis wildflower (4889) | more than 8 years ago | (#15086670)

They could get stabbed...

Re:"Can only end badly"? (1)

Zoolander (590897) | more than 8 years ago | (#15086689)

Thank you for making me giggle uncontrollably! :)

star gate (1)

Joe123456 (846782) | more than 8 years ago | (#15086018)

Thay are a black hole and a supergate next to each other and the ori are coming.

Tonight on FOX - When Black Holes Collide (1)

murderlegendre (776042) | more than 8 years ago | (#15088458)

"The funny part, was when the Black Holes collided."

Its perfectly natural for two young singularities (1)

mentrial (956547) | more than 8 years ago | (#15088695)

Let it bee let it beee let it beee oh let it beeeee -aslongasitdoesntdestroythewholeuniverse- let it beeeeeee eeee

Like a vacuum store (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15088703)

This sucks.

Black Hole Collision Simulations (1)

dcartoon (939338) | more than 8 years ago | (#15088842)

My astrophysics professor actually does work simulating black hole collisions. There are some cool images and movies of galaxies containing black holes colliding at http://web.phys.cmu.edu/~tiziana/BHGrow/ [cmu.edu]
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