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Cardiff scientists create black hole 'spotters' guide'

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Media captionThe detectors will be searching for faint ripples of black hole collisions millions of years ago

Astronomers at Cardiff University say they could have created a "spotters' guide" to help scientists identify hundreds of black holes.

The phenomena are dense objects exerting huge gravitational forces - strong enough to suck in light.

The scientists have devised a model of how black holes distort waves of energy around them when they collide.

Their insight should help researchers pinpoint more black holes when two giant detectors are turned on in 2015.

The detectors, known as Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatories - or Ligo for short - are in the United States.

They will be searching for faint ripples of black hole collisions millions of years ago, known as gravitational waves.

Dr Mark Hannam, from the School of Physics and Astronomy, explained: "The rapid spinning of black holes will cause the orbits to wobble, just like the last wobbles of a spinning top before it falls over.

"These wobbles can make the black holes trace out wild paths around each other, leading to extremely complicated gravitational-wave signals.

"Our model aims to predict this behaviour and help scientists find the signals in the detector data."

Supermassive black holes are thought to be at the centre of most large galaxies - including ours.

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