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Head-on Collision of Two Black Holes

Gravitational Wave Pattern

This movie begins a series illustrating the head-on collision of two equal-mass black holes which begin at rest. As the black holes fall towards each other, gravitational waves are emitted. One aspect of the gravitational wave is shown by the white contours and another by the yellow and blue color map.

Initially, each black hole has its own surface, or apparent horizon. However, after a certain time, the black holes merge and form one black hole with a single apparent horizon. The location of the apparent horizon is shown as a black ring near the center of the screen.

Once the black holes have merged, the subsequent behavior of the system is very much like the single distorted black hole system. The black hole oscillates and emits lobes of gravitational radiation. As the vibrations die away, the hole settles down to a single spherically-symmetric black hole.

Ed Seidel, NCSA, on-camera
Movie/Sound Byte
QuickTime Movie (1.7 MB); Sound File (1.0 MB); Text

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Copyright, (c) 1995: Board of Trustees, University of Illinois

David Curtis, NCSA. Last modified 11/9/95.