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Detecting Gravitational Waves from Massive Black Holes

11 Feb 2016, 16:06 UTC
Detecting Gravitational Waves from Massive Black Holes
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Minute Motions from Massive Events
An artist’s conception of two massive black holes colliding, which sends gravitational waves out across the universe. Courtesy LIGO.
Well folks, the physicists have done it: they’ve unambiguously detected gravitational waves using the two Laser Interferometry Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO) systems in Louisiana and Washington state. The detection took place on September 14, 2015 but it took scientists all these months to verify their findings. Now they’re sure — gravitational waves exist and they CAN be detected. And, the coolest part? This discovery opens the window on the science of gravitational astronomy. It will let us see how massive objects (like black holes and neutron stars) and their interactions can affect space-time. It’s also the first time that scientists have observed these gravitational ripples that spread out from titanic events in the cosmos.
The waves detected in September were generated by something really massive and cataclysic that occurred about 1.3 billion years ago: the merger of black holes. Their action created a single black hole that contains the mass of about 62 Suns. (You can get more details in the actual paper the scientists published.) This is pretty incredible news. And, as the folks at ...

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