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Space & Astronomy

ESO to announce an 'unprecedented discovery'

By T.K. Randall
October 13, 2017 · Comment icon 33 comments

What will be getting announced on Monday ? Image Credit: CC BY 4.0 ESO / S. Brunier
Astronomers have revealed that they will be sharing a major new discovery with the world on October 16.
The press conference, which will take place on Monday at the European Southern Observatory's Headquarters in Garching, Germany, will be introduced by ESO Director General Xavier Barcons himself and feature talks by representatives from research groups across Europe.

According to the press release, the event will "present groundbreaking observations of an astronomical phenomenon that has never been witnessed before."
The last time there was a major announcement of this nature was when astronomers at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) detected gravitational waves for the first time.

Whatever the announcement is this time, it certainly sounds as though it will be something special.

Update: Details about the announcement can be viewed - here.

Source: ESO | Comments (33)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #24 Posted by taniwha 7 years ago
Well I don't know the answer to your question except it is probably to do with the conversion of mass into energy. To further my earlier illustration... Let's suppose we sent the world's biggest mining truck to a neutron star to cart 1 teaspoon full of matter from point A to point B say it's a 1km round trip. Heres the truck here.  It is purpose built for the job. ( I recommend you watch ) Ok... how many times would this truck have to journey from point A to point B?  (To deliver the 1 teaspoon payload) Spoiler A staggering 2,222,222.222 times! I hope that gives a whole lot more perspective ... [More]
Comment icon #25 Posted by preacherman76 7 years ago
How? I mean this discovery is kinda cool an all, but I don't see how it will actually benefit anyone other then folks with really big telescopes. They can now pin point explosions so far away it doesn't effect us at all. Or if it did we couldn't do anything about it anyway.
Comment icon #26 Posted by Ozymandias 7 years ago
This is not my area but I think I am correct in saying that a gravity wave is a massless entity. It is actually a consequence of the effect of massive bodies like two neutron stars and only constitutes a perturbation of space-time.
Comment icon #27 Posted by TaintlessMetals 7 years ago
It is based on the assumption that new observations made by LIGO, and others that will be operational soon as well, will lead to a better understanding of gravity in general. Thus far our understanding is rudimentary at best but new developments provided from the data recieved during theses future observations could potentially lead to some seriously remarkable technologies not to mention have the potential to lead to confirming relativity and possibly eventually producing a unifying theory tieing everything together. With this specific observation we actually witnessed the warping of the fabr... [More]
Comment icon #28 Posted by taniwha 7 years ago
So now if we turn our telescopes 180 degrees will we see space warping as the ripples move away? 
Comment icon #29 Posted by Calibeliever 7 years ago
I understand it actually took 11 hours for observatories to locate the source, in part because they had to wait for the sun to set in the Western hemisphere. LIGO has an observation arc of about 120 degrees or 20 times the width of the moon from the ground so they had an idea of where to start but the computers had to do a lot of crunching before they could nail it down*. *source: AMA on Reddit.
Comment icon #30 Posted by Calibeliever 7 years ago
Theoretically, gravitational waves occur constantly they are just far too small for us to ever be able to reasonably detect. It requires a tremendous (understatement) amount of released energy to generate a large enough "wave" for our current instruments to detect. The main contributor to the wave was most likely the acceleration of matter that occurred. The smaller star's matter was estimated to have been accelerated to nearly .3c and the larger to .15c at the moment of collision. 
Comment icon #31 Posted by EBE Hybrid 7 years ago
This seems to imply that Gravitational waves and light travel at the same speed, or am I missing something?
Comment icon #32 Posted by Calibeliever 7 years ago
Yup. Well, pretty darned close as far as they can tell anyway, (it's been experimentally proven to within about 1%). GR states that gravity "propagates" at the speed of light and it's probably right.
Comment icon #33 Posted by bison 7 years ago
When super-massive objects spiral in toward each other at increasing speed, they distort space-time in a cyclical manner, creating gravitational waves. This was predicted by Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity, and has since been confirmed by observation. The distance between objects throughout space, is very slightly changed in a rhythmic manner. Measuring these changes in distance enables the detection of gravitational waves. Please find an article with a more detailed explanation, linked below:

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