Discovery of Gravitational Waves: Einstein proved to be right!


    February 13, 2016: An international team of physicists have confirmed the existence of Einstein’s gravitational waves, after 100 years of searching, making it one of the biggest astrophysical discoveries of the past century. This finding is a really big deal, because it opens up a whole new way of studying how the Universe works.

    On September 14 last year the physicist at LIGO detected the signal of gravitational waves, it was announced on 11th February 2016. It was one of the major predictions of Einstein’s general theory of relativity that had to be confirmed, this discovery will help to understand how the Universe is shaped by mass.

    According to Einstein’s theory, the fabric of space-time can become curved by anything massive in the universe. Just like if someone had dropped a stone in a pond, cataclysmic events such as black holes merging or stars exploding creates curves which can ripple out elsewhere as gravitational waves.

    Because these events occur far away, by the time those ripple get to us on Earth, they are around a billionth of the diameter of an atom, which is why it took scientists a long time to find them.

    Thanks to the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) it has finally been discovered. The laboratory works by bouncing lasers back and forth in two 4-km-long pipes, allowing physicists to measure incredibly small changes in space-time.

    They picked up a relatively big change in their Livingston lab in Louisiana, on 14 September 2015. They detected the same blip with their lab in Hanford, Washington, 4,000 km away after 7 milliseconds, suggesting that it had been caused by a gravitational wave passing through Earth.

    Scientists have been meticulously studying this signal after the first discovery, in order to see if it could have been caused by anything else. But in the end it was concluded that the blip was caused by gravitational waves having a statistical significance of 5.1 sigma.

    According to the physicist the gravitational waves were caused due to the merging of two black holes around 1.3 billion years ago, finally reaching us last year.

    LIGO researcher Eric Thrane, from Monash University in Australia said, “The discovery of this gravitational wave suggests that merging black holes are heavier and more numerous than many researchers previously believed.” Further adding he said, “This bodes well for detection of large populations of distant black holes. It will be intriguing to see what other sources of gravitational waves are out there, waiting to be discovered.”

    This is just a glimpse of what gravitational waves can teach us-several other gravitational wave observatories and detectors are scheduled to come online in the next five years, and they’ll allow us to more sensitively detect gravitational radiation.

    Much the same as we can as of now listen to radio waves keeping in mind the end goal to discover what happened ever, we now can do likewise with gravitational waves. Furthermore, what’s most energizing is that we can’t start to foresee at this moment what that could prompt.

    Science Alert


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