“Even if the Fermi detection is a false alarm, future LIGO events should be monitored for accompanying light irrespective of whether they originate from black hole mergers. Nature can always surprise us.” -Avi Loeb
Ever since LIGO first announced the direct detection of gravitational waves from two merging black holes, the physics and astronomy community has been struggling to understand an unexpected phenomenon that appears to have come along with it: a short-period gamma ray burst.
Arriving just 0.4 seconds after the gravitational waves did, the Fermi satellite’s detection doesn’t line up with models of black hole mergers. It’s thought that short-period GRBs originate from neutron star-neutron star mergers, and so seeing this has led to speculation of new physics, including from Avi Loeb at Harvard that perhaps LIGO’s twin black holes came from inside the same star. However, this explanation is exceedingly unlikely, and there are a number of astrophysical explanations that don’t require the new physics that Loeb’s explanation would.