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Artist's concept of an intermediate-mass black hole. Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Scientists may need to cast a wide net, searching across a range of frequencies in order to find never-before-observed intermediate-mass black holes if they crash together in deep space, according to a study in Nature Astronomy this week.

Why it matters: Intermediate-mass black holes — those that are 100–100,000 times the mass of the Sun — represent a gap in humanity's understanding of the universe and could be key to figuring out just how our cosmos evolved over time.

What they found: LIGO can, in theory, pick up ripples in space-time from intermediate-mass black holes today, but according to the new study, it will take future detectors to get a more complete view of the mysterious objects.

  • The space-based LISA observatory — which is expected to launch in the 2030s — will be able to search for those gravitational waves at lower frequencies than LIGO.
  • That range of frequencies between the instruments will allow scientists on the ground to observe these types of black holes and others as they spiral in toward each other for extended periods of time before merging.
  • "If LISA sees it, that means it is going to appear in LIGO's [frequency] band four years later," Karan Jani, an author of the new study, told Axios.

What's next: New ground-based observatories could also help scientists parse signal from noise and find direct evidence if these types of black holes exist.

  • Scientists aren’t just looking for these types of black holes through gravitational waves, either. Astronomers have found a number of candidate intermediate-mass black holes through X-ray signatures as well.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Biden's Day 1 challenges: Systemic racism

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Kirsty O'Connor (PA Images)/Getty Images

Advocates are pushing President-elect Biden to tackle systemic racism with a Day 1 agenda that includes ending the detention of migrant children and expanding DACA, announcing a Justice Department investigation of rogue police departments and returning some public lands to Indigenous tribes.

Why it matters: Biden has said the fight against systemic racism will be one of the top goals of his presidency — but the expectations may be so high that he won't be able to meet them.

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
2 hours ago - Health

Most Americans are still vulnerable to the coronavirus

Adapted from Bajema, et al., 2020, "Estimated SARS-CoV-2 Seroprevalence in the US as of September 2020"; Cartogram: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

As of September, the vast majority of Americans did not have coronavirus antibodies, according to a new study published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Why it matters: As the coronavirus spreads rapidly throughout most of the country, most people remain vulnerable to it.

Trump set to appear at Pennsylvania GOP hearing on voter fraud claims

President Trumpat the White House on Tuesday. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Trump is due to join his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, Wednesday at a Republican-led state Senate Majority Policy Committee hearing to discuss alleged election irregularities.

Why it matters: This would be his first trip outside of the DMV since Election Day and comes shortly after GSA ascertained the results, formally signing off on a transition to President-elect Biden.