Illustration: Rebecca Zisser / Axios

Physicists today reported observing waves in space and time from the collision of two black holes 1.8 billion light years away. It's the fourth time in two years these ripples formed from black hole mergers have been spotted, but this time they were able to more precisely locate where the collision took place in our universe.

Why it matters: It demonstrates that three detectors — two are nearly aligned and one is not — can be used to track these events in three dimensions. Ultimately, physicists want to combine observations from these detectors with those from optical telescopes to both "see" and "hear" events like neutron stars colliding, which could explain the origins of heavy elements, and test Einstein's general theory of relativity.

What they saw: On August 14, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Observatory (LIGO) detectors in Washington and Louisiana along with the Virgo detector in Italy observed waves from two black holes (one 31 times the mass of the Sun and the other 25 times the mass) combining to form one 53 times larger in mass than the Sun.

They also analyzed how the gravitational waves distorted space and time. What they saw was consistent with Einstein's prediction that they would "stretch and squeeze spacetime in the plane perpendicular to their direction of travel."

Sound smart: The sum of the two colliding black holes was three solar masses more than the black hole that formed, meaning the mass of three Suns was converted into the energy of the gravitational waves.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10 a.m. ET: 32,881,747 — Total deaths: 994,821 — Total recoveries: 22,758,171Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10 a.m. ET: 7,079,909 — Total deaths: 204,503 — Total recoveries: 2,750,459 — Total tests: 100,492,536Map.
  3. States: New York daily cases top 1,000 for first time since June — U.S. reports over 55,000 new coronavirus cases.
  4. Health: The long-term pain of the mental health pandemicFewer than 10% of Americans have coronavirus antibodies.
  5. Business: Millions start new businesses in time of coronavirus.
  6. Education: Summer college enrollment offers a glimpse of COVID-19's effect.

Durbin on Barrett confirmation: "We can’t stop the outcome"

Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said on ABC's "This Week" Sunday that Senate Democrats can “slow” the process of confirming Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett “perhaps a matter of hours, maybe days at the most," but that they "can’t stop the outcome."

Why it matters: Durbin confirmed that Democrats have "no procedural silver bullet" to stop Senate Republicans from confirming Barrett before the election, especially with only two GOP senators — Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine — voicing their opposition. Instead, Democrats will likely look to retaliate after the election if they win control of the Senate and White House.

The top Republicans who aren't voting for Trump in 2020

Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

Former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge announced in an op-ed Sunday that he would be voting for Joe Biden.

Why it matters: Ridge, who was also the first secretary of homeland security under George W. Bush, joins other prominent Republicans who have publicly said they will either not vote for Trump's re-election this November or will back Biden.