The Music of Black Holes

Hearing a black hole's song may be the key to understanding cosmic events

The Music of Black Holes

NASA/JPL-CalTech

Syracuse University physicists hope that a new supercomputer will help them pick out the sound of a black hole from the cosmic symphony. The computer will process data gathered by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, or LIGO, which is designed to listen for the ripples in space-time known as gravity waves.

Since those waves are thought to be the product of violent cosmic events such as the collision of black holes, the Syracuse scientists intend to do a bit of cosmological sleuthing, and parse the received data for hints of a black hole's song. This job will require some serious processing power: The new supercomputer, SUGAR, boasts 640 gigabytes of random access memory and 96 terabytes of storage space. So, no, you can't do this project at home.