Scientists spot brief flash of gamma rays less than half second after long-sought gravitational wave signal

After researching for the past many years, scientists have made an announcement in 2016 that they spotted gravitational waves possibly caused by the merger of two black holes last September. Using NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, a group of scientists detected a brief flash of gamma rays, occurring less than half a second post that long-sought gravitational wave signal.

Described at the American Physical Society’s April meeting in Salt Lake City, the gamma-ray outburst hasn’t been associated with that first gravitational wave signal. The research team failed to pinpoint the exact origin, only that they belonged to the same region.

However, in case other astronomers start finding a similar pattern, the findings will definitely raise the intriguing likelihood that such high-energy events couldn’t be quite as ‘invisible’ as being thought of.

At a briefing, Adam Goldstein of the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama, said, “Obviously the question that everyone has is, are our observation and LIGO’s observations coming from the same object — and we cannot say definitively right now. But this will likely soon be answered in the next couple of years”.

On September 14, the first gravitational wave signal passed through the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory. Firstly, it hit the Louisiana detector and then seven milliseconds later the one in Washington, indicating researchers that the signal must have belonged to the southern hemisphere.

Besides, the Fermi space telescope also caught a strange signal that belonged to the same direction. At one particular time, the spacecraft has its eye on nearly 70% of the sky, which lets it pick up instant and brief events that could be missed otherwise.

In this case, the issue is that the signal apparently came from under the camera and at a sharp angle which isn’t a good viewing situation.

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