midtskogen wrote:Source of the post It's a bold prediction, which is fine as long as they are prepared to be proven wrong. The cool thing is that this is something that amateur astronomers can keep an eye on over the next year and possibly collect a lot of useful data.
Quite so. I've just gotten to reading through their paper and checking their figures, and they actually place a lot of emphasis on alternative models and how further observations can be used to test them.
For example, one other possibility (possible but unlikely) is that the system orbits with an unseen companion such that the changes in light travel time are -- at least for right now -- mimicking the expected behavior of a binary merger. It can't stay that way forever though (the merger is an exponential, while the other option is cyclical so can only look like an exponential for a short while), and they make some models to show the evolution in different scenarios:
So further observations are pretty important. With further time, the "unseen companion" scenario is either verified or made increasingly unlikely because it would take a more precise combination of parameters to mimick a merger.
I think this also emphasizes why it's good to check the papers whenever they're available. Much more detail and insight that is often glossed over or omitted entirely in the popular articles.