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Scientists have detected gravitational waves

Posted on Thursday, 11 February, 2016 | Comment icon 69 comments

As far as astronomical discoveries go, this is a big one. Image Credit: NASA / Alain Riazuelo
The major discovery is likely to usher in a whole new era of astronomy over the next few decades.
Recent rumors about the first ever detection of gravitational waves have turned out to be true as scientists have today announced one of the most significant astronomical discoveries in years.

Researchers at the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) have revealed that they have for the first time observed the warping of space-time generated by the collision of two black holes situated more than one billion light years from the Earth.

"We have detected gravitational waves," said LIGO executive director David Reitze. "It's the first time the Universe has spoken to us through gravitational waves. Up until now, we've been deaf."

First proposed by Albert Einstein as a consequence of his General Theory of Relativity back in 1916, gravitational waves are ripples in the fabric of space-time that carry energy across the universe.

"It is the first ever direct detection of gravitational waves; it's the first ever direct detection of black holes and it is a confirmation of General Relativity because the property of these black holes agrees exactly with what Einstein predicted almost exactly 100 years ago," said Prof Karsten Danzmann.

"There is a Nobel Prize in it - there is no doubt."

Source: BBC News | Comments (69)

Tags: Gravitational Waves

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #60 Posted by JesseCuster on 14 February, 2016, 21:20
The first 2 YouTube results for "moon waves" are from notorious YouTube crank Crrow777 and are indeed about something called "moon waves" being related to the moon being a hologram. There's no YouTube channel by a user called "Cobrra77. I too am curious that if they weren't referencing silly videos by cranks and hoaxers on YouTube about moon waves and how the moon is a hologram, then what are they talking about? Perhaps a link to one of these videos (with a deion!) might clarify things. Always post deions of YouTube videos otherwise people will likely just... [More]
Comment icon #61 Posted by shadowsot on 15 February, 2016, 1:16
Checkers and pigeons.
Comment icon #62 Posted by Physics Phreak on 15 February, 2016, 9:53
If the wavelength of the gravitational waves detected by LIGO is extremely long and the energy level is extremely low, does not that suggest the same wavelength-energy relationship as photons?
Comment icon #63 Posted by sepulchrave on 16 February, 2016, 0:35
No, it does not. The energy of any arbitrary wave is almost always[sup]1[/sup] correlated with the amplitude and frequency of the wave, the latter being related to the wavelength through the wave's dispersion relationship. Gently plucking a long guitar string, gently paddling in one end of a swimming pool, or turning on Barry White at low volume will all generate long-wavelength, low-energy waves; but none of these have the same simple wavelength-energy relationship as a photon. The essential aspect of photons is that for monochromatic light of a given frequency, the total energy is alwa... [More]
Comment icon #64 Posted by Derek Willis on 16 February, 2016, 10:28
I don't follow what you are saying here. You start by saying the energy of any arbitrary wave almost always correlates with amplitude and frequency. You then say that the energy of a photon is an integer multiple of Planck's constant. By this I assume you are saying E = h x frequency. So are you including electromagnetic waves as "any arbitrary wave" or are you making the distinction that with electromagnetic waves the energy is a function of frequency only, and is not dependent on amplitude?
Comment icon #65 Posted by sepulchrave on 16 February, 2016, 13:16
No I am not making that distinction. Electromagnetic waves are ``waves'', and the energy of these does correlate with the amplitude and the frequency. (An electromagnetic wave consists of a coupled oscillation in the electric and magnetic fields, both of these fields have an energy density - check any undergraduate electricity and magnetism textbook.) If that was the end of it, a given frequency of light could have arbitrary energies, since in classical mechanics both the frequency and the amplitude can be any real number. However in this particular case, the total energy at any give... [More]
Comment icon #66 Posted by Derek Willis on 16 February, 2016, 15:35
Physics Freak was referring to an earlier posting regarding gravitons and suggested the long wavelength and low energy of the gravity waves detected by LIGO is the same wavelength/energy relationship as photons. My understanding of photons is that the energy is E = hf, and that the amplitude of a photon has no physical meaning but rather is the probability of locating the photon at any given place, as in Schrodinger's Wave Equation in general. Am I right about that? Yes, when talking in classical terms the energy of a beam of light is related to the amplitude, but Physics Freak's com... [More]
Comment icon #67 Posted by sepulchrave on 17 February, 2016, 12:02
Right, my point is that if you only observer one gravity wave, the energy will always be proportional to the frequency. But one data point is not enough to infer a general rule. Furthermore the gravity wave that was observed was more of a ``wavepacket'' consisting of multiple superimposed frequencies. One would need many additional observations of separate gravity waves before being able to reach a definite empirical conclusion about whether or not there is a quantization relationship between energy and frequency. Yes, that is correct. (Technically you can't use the Schrodinger... [More]
Comment icon #68 Posted by TripGun on 19 February, 2016, 18:41
I heard that LIGO is so sensitive that they have to know when Rosie O'Donnell does any traveling.

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