Two black holes merged to form a huge one moving at incredible speeds

Astronomers have long suspected that merging black holes can give the resulting larger black hole a massive boost of speed, and have finally spotted this happening


11 January 2022

When a pair of black holes merge, the resulting larger black hole can be sent hurtling away at extraordinary speeds – and now astronomers have seen it happen.

Vijay Varma at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics in Germany and his colleagues found this fast-moving black hole by taking a second look at data from the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) in the US and its corresponding observatory in Italy, called Virgo. These observatories measure gravitational waves, ripples in space-time caused by the motions of massive objects.

The signal that Varma and his colleagues studied is designated GW200129. It came …