We have been observing space in a whole new way throughout 2017 and I believe it is time we went over one of my favorite findings of the year. We detected gravitational waves for the third time ever and have made so much progress.
Work in regards to this was published in Physical Review Letters and to be honest, it is still blowing my mind even now. These waves were detected by the twin Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) detectors. No one thought in the past that there would ever even be a way to actually observe these waves and now here we are doing just that.
One observation that really sticks out was one that occurred between black holes that were larger than the Sun itself. The collision of two black holes produces so much more power than all the light radiated from the galaxies and stars at any one time. Yes, it is that extreme.
“We have further confirmation of the existence of stellar-mass black holes that are larger than 20 solar masses – these are objects we didn’t know existed before LIGO detected them.”
“It is remarkable that humans can put together a story, and test it, for such strange and extreme events that took place billions of years ago and billions of light-years distant from us. The entire LIGO and Virgo scientific collaborations worked to put all these pieces together.”
Isn’t that interesting? This is truly a remarkable feat in itself. LIGO is working towards uncovering so much.
“It looks like Einstein was right—even for this new event, which is about two times farther away than our first detection,” says Laura Cadonati of Georgia Tech and the Deputy Spokesperson of the LSC. “We can see no deviation from the predictions of general relativity, and this greater distance helps us to make that statement with more confidence.”
“The LIGO instruments have reached impressive sensitivities,” notes Jo van den Brand, the Virgo Collaboration spokesperson, a physicist at the Dutch National Institute for Subatomic Physics (Nikhef) and professor at VU University in Amsterdam. “We expect that by this summer Virgo, the European interferometer, will expand the network of detectors, helping us to better localize the signals.”
The LIGO-Virgo team is continuing to search the latest LIGO data for signs of space-time ripples from the far reaches of the cosmos. They are also working on technical upgrades for LIGO’s next run, scheduled to begin in late 2018, during which the detectors’ sensitivity will be improved.
“With the third confirmed detection of gravitational waves from the collision of two black holes, LIGO is establishing itself as a powerful observatory for revealing the dark side of the universe,” says David Reitze of Caltech, executive director of the LIGO Laboratory. “While LIGO is uniquely suited to observing these types of events, we hope to see other types of astrophysical events soon, such as the violent collision of two neutron stars.”
There is so much to learn and it seems as time passes so much will be uncovered. What do you think about all of this?
Image via Nasa.Gov