An international group of astronomers has discovered the exotic object GW190814, which by mass occupies an intermediate position between black holes and neutron stars. This was reported in an article published in The Astrophysical Journal.
On December 14, 2019, researchers at the LIGO collaboration recorded gravitational waves that were emitted when a black hole merged with 22-24 masses of the Sun and an unknown celestial body, whose mass reaches 2.5-2.6 solar masses. The source of the waves was located at a distance from 652 million to 932 million light years. The second object is either the lightest black hole or the heaviest neutron star.
According to scientists’ calculations, such events that belong to a new merger class occur once a year in the amount of 1-23 cubic gigaparsec space (one parsec equals 3.26 light years). Astrophysical models predict that binary systems with a similar mass ratio of objects can occur in several ways, but are unlikely to form in globular clusters. However, the intrinsic masses of objects and the frequency of mergers cast doubt on all modern models of the formation of such systems in dense stellar media.
Scientists suggest that the second object is most likely a black hole, but cannot completely exclude the possibility that it is a neutron star. Astronomers believe that the discovery will allow a better understanding of the processes leading to the appearance of compact celestial bodies, and in the near future more such events will be detected.