Do merging black holes lose information? They absolutely must, according to General Relativity and the known laws of physics. Take two black holes, merge them together, and they lose mass. For the ten black hole-black hole mergers LIGO and Virgo have seen so far, each one has lost mass in the process: about 5% of the total, on average. So where does the information that was encoded by that mass go? That’s what our Patreon supporter Pierre Fransson wants to know, asking:
When black holes merge they [lose] energy through gravitational waves. Does this pose the same problem as Hawking radiation does, with respect to loss of information? Or is the information on what has gone into the black hole somehow encoded into the gravitational wave? And if it is could we someday hope to decode what went into the black hole using gravitational waves?