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LIGO confirms gravitational wave for third time
02 June 2017, 02:13 | Virginia Benson
Third Detection of Gravitational Waves Confirmed
"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", says MIT's David Shoemaker, the newly elected spokesperson for the LIGO Scientific Collaboration (LSC), a body of more than 1,000 worldwide scientists who perform LIGO research together with the European-based Virgo Collaboration.
The miles-long observatories known as LIGO - "cosmic microphones" tuned to the far reaches of the universe, born out of an MIT classroom exercise decades ago - have detected another set of gravitational waves cast off by the violent collision of two black holes, the LIGO scientists revealed in a paper published Thursday.
In fact, Indian scientists have done foundational work over the last three decades in modelling the signal waveforms and developing mathematical techniques to search for gravitational wave signals in noisy data. "Here, you're converting the equivalent of the mass of the Sun into energy, in a tiny fraction of a second".
Scientists hope to eventually see more than just black hole mergers, Reitze said. In this scenario, the black holes can spin in any direction relative to their orbital motion.
Without the outward pressure generated by nuclear fusion to offset the inward pull of gravity, the core suddenly collapses as the star is blown apart.
Even the gravitational hum from a neutron star could theoretically be detectable once LIGO is sensitive enough.
Their gravity is so strong not even light can escape.
"We're starting to gather real statistics on binary black hole systems", Keita Kawabe of Caltech said. The data from the latest detection, while not conclusive, offers a hint at the latter, suggesting these black holes may have been spinning in different directions as they orbited each other, Vitale said.
That distance, and some details in the shape of the curves, also tell us a lot about these black holes and the Universe as a whole.
According to Bangalore Sathyaprakash of the University of Cardiff in the United Kingdom, the relative orientations of the spin and orbital angular momenta of a binary black hole provide important information about how the system formed. In that case, the spins would be more randomly oriented. Black holes that pair up as stars are likely to have their spins aligned with their orbits. Through looking at the signal from these two merging black holes, for example, scientists were able to figure out their masses and the general part of the sky where they formed.
The ability to observe gravitational waves heralds a new era of astronomy in which scientists will combine observations from a number of different instruments.
All of this directly puts Einstein's theory of relativity- first proposed almost a century ago - to the test. The gravitational waves detected by LIGO formed when the black holes spiraled together and collided. But detecting them is a major challenge.
"When an optical source potentially related to the LIGO event was discovered, the CZTI team joined hands with the global GROWTH collaboration to study it".
Gravitational waves are shaping up to be the hot new astronomical tool of the 21st century, offering glimpses into the universe's darkest corners and providing insights into the workings of the cosmos that we can't get by any other means. "Normally, we don't think of the nothing of space as having any properties at all, so it's quite counter intuitive that it could expand or contract or vibrate". "We did not discovery any such dispersion - once again failing to prove Einstein was wrong".
That's where the new gravitational-wave signal comes in.
By way of analogy, Landry likened spacetime to the canvas of a painting. "I wouldn't bet against it, frankly", Wagoner says. In this instance we're talking about interferometers - L-shaped vacuum tubes stretching for four kilometers in length housing lasers being bounced back and forth by mirrors. Those are gravitational waves.
RIT scientists helped the collaboration measure and interpret black hole spins and their alignment. Financial support for the Advanced LIGO project was led by NSF with Germany (Max Planck Society), the U.K. (Science and Technology Facilities Council) and Australia (Australian Research Council) making significant commitments and contributions to the project. For instance, when a beam of white light is shone through a prism, the difference in wavelengths will cause the light waves to move at slightly different speeds, which results in slightly different paths and produces a band of rainbow.
And that's precisely what the LIGO researchers found in the three confirmed cases to date.
The galactic mash-up which produced the gravitational waves occurred some three billion light-years away, and marks the science world's third observation of this phenomenon.
Most of the remaining mass - almost twice our sun's worth - cascaded out in a powerful burst of invisible energy: gravitational waves that took 3 billion earth years to reach us, and that passed right on by in a fraction of a second.
The two teams will swap notes to improve their systems' range for the next run, scheduled to start in 2018.
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