Science

Einstein-predicted gravitational waves found

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  • February 11, 2016

Einstein-predicted gravitational waves found

Einstein-predicted gravitational waves found

A team of physicists announced Thursday that they detected the noise of two black holes colliding, evidence of the ripples in space-time called gravitational waves.

Thursday, scientists from across the country gathered at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory in Livingston and via an internet connection to share with the World they have detected gravitational waves. “And, surprisingly, the source of the waves is a system of two black holes in orbit around each other, that spiral inward and smash together”.

Some 1.3 billion years ago a pair of black holes that had been orbiting each other finally smashed into each other with such force that it produced gravitational waves that rang through the universe like a giant bell.

According to scientist, the first direct detection of gravitational waves and the first observation of a binary black hole merger are remarkable achievements, but they represent only the first page of an exciting new chapter in astronomy. The discovery confirms a major prediction in Albert Einstein’s 1915 general theory of relativity.

For the first time in history scientists have detected gravitational waves.

Gravitational waves redefine most of what we know about the universe. “Until this moment we had our eyes on the sky and we couldn’t hear the music, ” said Columbia University astrophysicist Szabolcs Marka. The detection of gravitational waves causes the beams to return at ever-so-slightly different times.

LIGO used two huge L-shaped laser-using detectors based in Louisiana and Washington state to discover the waves.

About 3 times the mass of the sun was converted into gravitational waves in a fraction of a second – with a peak power output about 50 times that of the whole visible universe. However, in order for us to detect them, they needed to be created by a mammoth event – like, for example, the collision of two black holes.

“Their discovery…is certain to earn a Nobel Prize”, said The Guardian’s science editor, Ian Sample. “We did it”, said David Reitze, executive director of LIGO told the crowded room.

And then the ringing stopped as the two holes coalesced into a single black hole, a trapdoor in space with the equivalent mass of 62 suns.

The concept of gravitational waves can be a bit tough to wrap to wrap your head around.

The waves were first detected on September 14, 2015. LIGO was able to use high-powered lasers to detect the waves.

This “historic” discovery means that after almost 100 years, one of Einstein’s greatest and most ambitious theories was actually correct.

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