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Late last week, as some staff astronomers embarked on trips to see Monday’s solar eclipse, two of NASA’s space-based observatories — Hubble and Chandra X-ray — and at least two land-based telescopes scrambled to capture a far more explosive event. The astronomers who stayed behind trained their telescopes on a patch of sky where they hoped to find an astrophysical Rosetta stone: a cataclysmic event capable of producing electromagnetic signals on top of gravitational waves separately detected by the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (Advanced LIGO).

The LIGO collaboration made headlines in February 2016 when it announced it had detected gravitational waves from two colliding black holes. Four months later, while still in its first observing run, the team confirmed the detection of a second black hole merger. A third such merger was detected in January during Advanced LIGO’s second observing run, which ended today. This possible new event could represent something special.

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