Thanks to the measured gravitational waves, we know that there are a number of extremely massive black holes in galaxies. Yet, they cannot be seen with an ordinary telescope. How is it possible? Astronomers now think they know the answer.
In this audio you can hear researcher Peter Jonker (SRON / Radboud). Learn more about the research here: Polarization telescopes appear to be the cause of the lack of massive black holes. For the card readers and astronomers among us:
Explanatory sheet: Thanks to electromagnetic (EM) radiation, we only discovered black holes lighter than twenty solar masses (purple). They are always black holes accompanied by a star, because a black hole accompanied by another black hole is not visible. Since 2015, we have discovered dozens of heavy black (blue) holes using gravitational waves (LIGO-Virgo). This gap now appears to be due to a bias of EM telescopes to the detriment of massive black holes. Incidentally, LIGO-Virgo has a bias in the other direction, as heavier black holes produce stronger waves. Yet LIGO-Virgo does not exclusively see heavy black holes. The future JWST telescope should also be sensitive enough to occasionally break the EM bias, so that EM telescopes no longer exclusively observe light black holes.
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