Gravity waves detected, but it wasn’t Betelgeuse, scientists say

Space Science
LIGO lab gravitational waves

(LIGO Lab-Caltech-MIT / YouTube)

MYSTERY WIRE — A burst of gravitational waves recorded on Jan. 14 has several websites buzzing about Betelgeuse, but there’s no evidence the burst came from the red supergiant, scientists say.

Speculation that the star exploded doesn’t hold up — you can still see it in the night sky.

The waves registered for 14 milliseconds on the monitors at LIGO — Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory. Scientists said that two previous measurements of gravitational waves looked different. Waves have been detected more than a dozen times, according to a report from The Atlantic.

Andy Howell provided some perspective in an interview with Space.com. Howell, a staff scientist at Los Cumbres Observatory global Telescope Network, described expectations of gravitational waves from different kinds of events:

  • Supernova explosion: similar to the waves detected on Jan. 14, but longer than 14 milliseconds.
  • Merging black holes: waves lasting a couple of seconds
  • Neutron star collision: waves lasting around 30 seconds
An aerial view of the LIGO lab, the most sensitive measuring device ever built. The lab is a collaboration of Caltech and MIT. (LIGO Lab-Caltech-MIT / YouTube)

Howell adds that neutrinos usually detected when a star goes supernova were not detected during the recent burst.

Researchers have been unable to pinpoint the precise source of the burst. There’s even a possibility that detectors saw a “false positive” — just a blip in the instrument.

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