On September 14th, 2015, at 11:50 a.m, gravitational waves spread through the Earth as a result of a collision between two black holes about 1.3 billion light-years from Earth.
In 1916, 100 years ago, an enigmatic theoretical physicist predicted a phenomenon known as gravitational waves. These waves warp space and time and are caused by objects with incredible mass. Albert Einstein went on to write his predictions on gravitational waves in the general theory of relativity, though these waves eluded scientists well past Einsteins lifetime.
It wasn’t until 1974 when researchers, Joseph Taylor and Russell Hulse, indirectly confirmed the existence of gravitational waves when shifts in flashing from a pair of neutron stars matched the predictions made by Einstein. They went on to win a Nobel Prize in Physics in 1993 for their discovery.
On February 11th, 2016 The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) announced their findings. David Reitze, the executive director of LIGO, said at the Washington DC press conference, “Ladies and gentlemen, we have detected gravitational waves.”
Marco Drago at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics saw the signal on his computer in Hannover, Germany. Bruce Allen, Drago’s boss confirmed the signal on September 14th, 2015.
The National Science Foundation in Washington D.c., gathered scientists to discuss the findings and Physical Review Letters from a team of more than a thousand researchers in 15 different countries. This was the first time that scientists directly detected gravitational waves that began at 35 hertz and picked up to 250 hertz, they lasted about one-fourth of a second, and sounded like chirps, they were picked up by L-shaped antennas in Washington State and Louisiana. This was also the first black hole merger that scientists have observed, which also occurred between 600 million and 1.8 billion years ago. The collision apparently radiated more energy than all the stars in the observable universe at the time.
Gravitational waves, when they travel through the universe collide with matter like planets, stars, and other cosmic objects which can later be produced into sounds and studied. This new discovery might lead to news ways for astronomers to find undiscovered cosmic objects in space. According to Einstein the Earth should experience gravitational waves often, the only problem is that by the time these waves reach Earth they are hard to detect. Which might not be a problem in the future as the LIGO has been upgraded.
The Advanced LIGO will be an upgrade to three interferometers in the U.S. Other gravitational wave detectors are the Virgo interferometer in Italy, the GEO600 in Hannover, another is being developed in Japan, and a third LIGO development has been proposed in India. With a multitude of detectors it would be easier to detect gravitational waves and to pinpoint the source that caused the waves.
A new era of scientific research is about to begin through the proven existence of gravitational waves and there most likely will be a Noble Prize for this discovery.