Upgraded LIGO detectors spot gravitational waves
YEREVAN, FEBRUARY 11, ARMENPRESS. In a large press event today, the scientists behind the LIGO experiment announced the first direct detection of gravitational waves, ripples in the fabric of space-time generated by strong gravitational interactions. The news, following weeks of rumors, confirms a major prediction of general relativity, and comes a century after Einstein first formulated the theory. “Armenpress” reports about this, citing Ars Technica.
The waves, produced in the final moments of a black hole merger, arrived precisely at 5:51 in the morning (US Eastern) on September 14th last year, and were picked up by both LIGO detectors—one in Louisiana, one in Washington. Since the Louisiana detector picked up the signal a few milliseconds sooner, the event that produced the gravitational waves occurred in the Southern Hemisphere.
"The description of this observation is beautifully described in the Einstein theory of general relativity formulated 100 years ago," said MIT professor Rainer Weiss, part of the team that first proposed LIGO. He said it "comprises the first test of the theory in strong gravitation."
Gravitational waves are a consequence of general relativity. They're generated when two massive bodies are in close orbit around each other. Rather than entering a stable orbit, their interactions produce gravitational waves, ripples in the fabric of space. These waves carry energy away from the system, allowing the orbits to decay, eventually leading to a merger of the system.
"This detection is the beginning of a new era: the field of gravitational wave astronomy is now a reality," said Gabriela González of Louisiana State University. Black hole expert Kip Thorne stated, "With this new discovery, we humans are embarking on a marvelous new quest: the quest to explore the warped side of the Universe—objects and phenomena that are made from warped spacetime."