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“Ladies and gentlemen, we have detected gravitational waves.”

11 Feb 2016, 17:33 UTC
“Ladies and gentlemen, we have detected gravitational waves.”
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

The title says it all. Today, The Light Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (or simply LIGO) collaboration announced the detection of gravitational waves coming from the merger of two black holes located somewhere in the Southern sky, in the direction of the Magellanic Clouds. In the presentation, organized by the National Science Foundation, David Reitze (Caltech), Gabriela Gonzales (Louisiana State), Rainer Weiss (MIT), and Kip Thorn (Caltech), announced to the room full of reporters — and thousand of scientists worldwide via the video feeds — that they have seen a gravitational wave event. Their paper, along with a nice explanation of the result, can be seen here.

The data that they have is rather remarkable. The event, which occurred on 14 September 2015, has been seen by two sites (Livingston and Hanford) of the experiment, as can be seen in the picture taken from their presentation. It likely happened over a billion years ago (1.3B light years away) and is consistent with the merger of two black holes, of 29 and 46 solar masses. The resulting larger black hole’s mass is about 62 solar masses, which means that about 3 solar masses of energy (29+36-62=3) has been radiated in the form of ...

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