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Gravitational waves could let us find tiny black holes devouring stars

A primordial black hole falling into a neutron star would sink to its centre and devour it in seconds, and we might be able to detect this process using gravitational waves

Space 15 April 2022

360 degree massive black hole panorama, equirectangular projection, environment map. HDRI spherical panorama. Space background with black hole and stars. 3d illustration; Shutterstock ID 1159292119; purchase_order: -; job: -; client: -; other: -

Are primordial black holes out there?

Shutterstock/Jurik Peter

Tiny, ancient black holes that may have formed in the early universe could help us uncover the internal structure of the densest stars. If they exist, these black holes could devour neutron stars from the inside, creating ripples in space-time called gravitational waves that we might be able to detect.

So-called primordial black holes are potentially important as an explanation for some of the effects of dark matter, but are predicted to be small, and so nearly impossible to directly detect. “An Earth-mass primordial …