Albert Einstein is proven correct once again. First postulated over 100 years ago by Einstein, the collision of two black holes at near-light speed sent a gravitational wave pulsing through the fabric of space and time. On Feb 11, 2016, scientists revealed for the first time, that they have directly detected the existence of gravitational waves. Florida Today reports that researchers with the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, or Advanced LIGO, announced their success at a news conference and in a paper in Physical Review Letters.
Florida Today went on to report that the detection was of a kind of “chirp” lasting only 20 milliseconds. Researchers identified the chirp as a rising pitch that matches the final moments of the merger of two stellar-mass black holes. The smaller of the black holes is estimated to be about 29 solar masses while the larger is estimated to be about 36 solar masses.
The Connecticut Jewish Ledger reports that Einstein’s gravitational wave theory is best explained to the layman as a rock creating a ripple in a body of water. In this case, the rock is a massive accelerating object, while the body of water is space. As the object accelerates, two objects are essentially orbiting around one another. Ripples are created that radiate outward in the same manner that ripples in water will move. The sound that is heard are ripples in space.
In an official statement released by Advanced LIGO, scientists explained that this discovery is only the beginning in what proves to an exciting time for the physics community. Current methods of detection offer only a general direction from which the signal has originated from. Estimations suggest that the source is approximately 1.3 billion light years away, in an area near the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC). The LMC is 158,200 light years away, however, the signal came from one of the many distant galaxies overlapping the LMC.
Huewire reports that over 37 scientists from top research centers in Mumbai, Pune, and Bengaluru contributed crucial research in collaboration with LIGO scientists, thus allowing Einstein to be proven correct. Located in Louisiana and Washington State, twin laser interferometer gravitational- wave detectors allowed researchers to understand the universe in a manner that previously existed in theory only. LIGO uses 4 kilometer long pipes to detect waves. The process involved the firing of lasers through L-shaped tunnels into space and the waves disturbed by the light.
Albert Einstein being proved correct once again has opened up a plethora of possibilities. A recent article appearing in Scientific American, explains that LIGO, in conjunction with other operational observatories, have already begun looking for ripples created by the massive stars as well as from collisions of matter referred to as neutron stars. Cosmologists believe that in future decades, gravitational wave observatories might record waves emitted during the first fractions of a trillionth of a second after the Big Bang.
While scientists revel in the moment, others are acutely aware that the current generation of laser interferometers have their limitations. External interference present problems for observers. LIGO researchers tell Scientific American that the next generation of detectors are in the planning phase. Placed deep beneath the ground and surrounded by hundreds of meters of overlying rock, outside interference will be minimal. One such new generation detector is the Kamioka Gravitational Wave Detector (KAGRA). Located in Japan, KAGRA is expected to be operational as soon as 2018. Beyond KAGRA, a consortium of European partners have formed tentative plans to build a subterranean laser interferometer that will be called the Einstein Telescope. While details are guarded at this point, early predictions place costs between one to two billion dollars and it coming on line in the late 2020’s.
Albert Einstein is proven correct once again thus cementing his already iconic persona. Einstein postulated his most impacting theories early in his life. Now, a century later, Einstein can be seen as having been light-years ahead of his time. The BBC News explains that Einstein’s abilities in mathematics and science are painfully obvious. However, it is he ability to ask simple questions and observe what his contemporaries were unable to see that sets him apart. A century later, Einstein’s contributions continue to modify the manner in which humanity understands their role in the universe.
By Garrett Sayers
Huffpost Science: Ripples in the Cosmic Pond
Huewire: Waves: Scientists Finally Prove Einsteins Theory
Scientific American: Albert Einsteins Vision Realized: The Future of Gravitational Wave Astronomy is Here
BBC News: Albert Einstein, The Man Who Predicted Gravitational Waves
The Connecticut Jewish Ledger: Albert Einstein’s Gravitational Waves Observed For the First Time
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