Scientists Detect Gravitational Waves

Gravitational Waves pic

Gravitational Waves
Image: npr.org

An avid amateur astronomer, Valerie Varnuska loves to learn about the universe and its phenomena. Valerie Varnuska enjoys looking at the night sky above Westbury, NY, and learning about what she sees.

On February 11, 2016, scientists announced the first identified evidence of gravitational waves. The announcement came from David Reitze, director of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO), and has incited an international celebration in the field of astronomy. Scientists have communicated that the ability to detect these waves will change the way the human race views the universe, as the motion of the waves carries data unaltered from its source.

Gravitational waves occur when massive objects decelerate or accelerate in space. Scientists have compared the phenomenon to a storm at sea, where energy disturbs an otherwise calm surface. Gravitational waves have a similar effect on the interlaced entity of space-time, which then carries information about the inciting event throughout the reaches of space. This recently detected gravitational wave, for example, came about as a result of two black holes colliding approximately 1.3 billion years ago.

With the ability to detect gravitational waves, scientists will be able to branch out from traditional light-based astronomic analysis to sound-based research. Now able to analyze galactic events based on auditory rather than purely visual signals, researchers have begun to look into how they can use this data to gather information about the universe’s earliest moments.

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